Chesapeake Bay Foundation Argues Need to Treat Urban Stormwater Runoff

In an October 29 commentary, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Vice President for Environmental Protection and Restoration Kim Coble discusses how urban stormwater runoff harms both the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways.  She argues that the traditional methods of stormwater management treatment must change, citing new permit requirements and the controversial 2012 stormwater utility fee legislation.  She also argues that in addition to environmental benefits, the changes will also yield economic benefits.

We are making progress reducing pollution from agricultural lands and sewage  treatment plants. But polluted runoff from urban and suburban streets, parking  lots, rooftops, and other impervious surfaces keeps increasing.

Polluted runoff from urban and suburban areas creates flooding, can threaten  human health and carries toxic chemicals into local waterways. In developed  areas, it can be a significant contributor to the impairment of streams and  rivers.  …

There are other economic benefits as well. The University of Maryland  Environmental Finance Center studied the economic impact and found that for  every $100 million invested in stormwater in Anne Arundel County, there will be  $220 million in benefit to the local economy.  …

While these signs of progress are reassuring, not all elected officials are  on board. One of the largest threats to restoring local rivers, streams, and the  Chesapeake Bay are those officials who focus on high costs and say it can’t be  done. To them I say look around and see what others have done, embrace new  techniques and technologies — and remember that the public overwhelmingly wants  clean water.

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