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Water Quality/Wetlands

Recent Developments Archive

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EPA Publishes Proposed NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a proposed rule that would require all holders of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to substitute electronic reporting for existing paper-based reports. The proposed rule would reduce the reporting burden of states, tribes, and permit holders; streamline permit renewals; and promote full exchange of NPDES data among states, EPA, and the public. The requirements would be phased in over a two-year period, according to the proposal. The comment period closes Oct. 28. Given the large scope of the proposal, EPA said it might publish a supplemental notice within 180 days of the closing of the public comment. For more information, link to the proposed rule. (7-31-13)

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EPA Releases Stormwater Calculator Software

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a national stormwater calculator to help estimate the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from a specific site anywhere in the United States. EPA said the estimates will be based on local soil conditions, land cover, and historic rainfall records. The calculator, which is the first phase of the Stormwater Calculator and Climate Assessment Tool package announced in President Obama's climate action plan in June, is a desktop application that allows users to enter any U.S. location and select different scenarios to learn how specific green infrastructure changes can prevent runoff. The calculator is available at http://www.epa.gov/nrmrl/wswrd/wq/models/swc/. (7-24-13)

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Report: Uncovering Buried Urban Streams Improves Water Quality, Reduces Flooding

An American Rivers report finds that the best way to improve stormwater drainage and water quality and reduce flooding is to uncover and restore buried urban streams and headwaters.  Specifically, the reports suggests implementing “stream daylighting,” a relatively new approach that the group says will bring these buried waterways and stormwater drainage channels back to life “by physically uncovering and restoring them.” In addition to water quality improvements, stream daylighting improves flood mitigation, and bolsters community and economic revitalization. For more information, link to Daylighting Streams: Breathing Life into Urban Streams and Communities. (7-17-13)

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Partnership for Sustainable Communities Plans Green Infrastructure Webinar

A webinar focusing on green infrastructure was held on July 16, 2013, by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The webinar will feature experts from the federal agencies comprising the Partnership for Sustainable communities and the city of Indianapolis. Expected discussion topics include methods for incorporating green infrastructure into stormwater management, neighborhood revitalization, and complete streets implementation. Speakers will also provide information on obtaining federal financing for green infrastructure. For more information, link to Green Infrastructure: Achieving Stormwater Management, Neighborhood Stabilization, and Complete Streets Using Formula Funds. (6-17-13)

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Report Describes Best Practices for Meeting TMDLs for Stormwater

A synthesis of best management practices currently being used by state departments of transportation for meeting total maximum daily load (TMDL) water quality goals for stormwater runoff is provided in a report issued under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP Synthesis 444). The report provides a simple, user-friendly BMP matrix/toolbox with quantitative performance and, where available, life-cycle cost data for various structural and nonstructural BMPs. For more information, link to Pollutant Load Reductions for Total Maximum Daily Loads for Highways. (5-31-13)

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FHWA and USGS Release New Runoff-Quality Model

The Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM), jointly developed by the Federal Highway Administration and the United States Geological Survey, is now available. SELDM was developed to help determine approximations of event mean concentrations and flows and loads from a highway by using data gathered from highway sites, receiving-water basins, precipitation events, storm flows, water quality and mitigation performance measures. The extensively tested product replaces the previous FHWA runoff-quality model known as Driscoll, which was published in 1990. Several training sessions are planned. For more information, link to Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) Version 1.0.0 or to the virtual CD-ROM of the software. (4-18-13)

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EPA Proposes Effluent Guidelines for Construction and Development

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new effluent limits calling for best management practices in lieu of numerical turbidity limits to control the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff to prevent erosion at construction sites. EPA will no longer require builders to monitor for turbidity in stormwater runoff and will withdraw numeric turbidity limits that it imposed in 2009. The proposal is in response a lawsuit over the stormwater rule for construction sites. EPA will accept comments through May 31. For more information, link to the proposal. (3-29-13)

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EPA Releases First Comprehensive Survey on the Health of Nation's Rivers and Streams

The 2008-2009 National Rivers and Stream Assessment, which analyzes the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, was recently released by the Environmental Protection Agency. The assessment represents the first comprehensive survey examining the health of rivers and streams. Findings from the assessment show that 55 percent of the stream and river miles measured are in “poor condition for aquatic life.” Assessment data will be used by the EPA, states, and tribes to guide decision making regarding the critical needs of rivers and streams. For more information, link to 2008-2009 National Rivers and Streams Assessment. (3-26-13)

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DDOT Issues Draft Standards on Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development

Draft standards for the design and construction of green infrastructure and low impact development within the public right of way have been issued by the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. The standards were developed as part of an effort to meet stringent new stormwater requirements issued by the District Department of the Environment. A multidisciplinary and inter-agency team reviewed existing projects, best practices, and academic research to develop the standards. The standards provide preferred practices and materials specifications for permeable pavement, bioretention systems, and street tree planting. For more information and links to the draft standards, link to the Low Impact Development page on DDOT’s website. (3-19-13)

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Report Offers Strategies for Financing Green Infrastructure Development

Guidance on strategies for cities to attract private financing for green infrastructure development is provided in a report released by the NatLab consortium, a collaboration between the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, and the firm EKO Asset Management Partners. The report, Creating Clean Water Cash Flows, focuses on Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters plan to spend at least $1.67 billion over 25 years in stormwater retrofit projects that employ innovative green infrastructure such as porous pavement or roadside plantings. The report covers strategies such as project aggregation, offsite mitigation, and public-private partnerships. A companion report, Greening Vacant Lots, includes case studies on how 10 U.S. cities are converting vacant lots into green spaces. For more information, link to the NRDC press release. (3-7-13)

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Research Describes Process for Transfer of Mitigation Sites from DOTs to Resource Agencies, NGOs

Successful processes and procedures for transferring mitigation and conservation sites from DOTs to private conservation organizations or government conservation agencies are described in a report produced under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP Project 25-25, Task 75). The August 2012 report summarizes DOT best practices for locating and arranging for long-term management of mitigation sites by third parties. For more information, link to Mitigation Site Transfer to Resource Agencies & Non-Governmental Organizations. (2-8-13)

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Washington State DOT Bridge Replacement Recognized Among Top Stormwater Projects

Stormwater and erosion control industry magazine Storm Water Solutions has announced its annual awards recognizing projects that incorporate innovative solutions and technology to address flood prevention, stormwater management, and erosion control. For 2012, 10 Top Storm Water & Erosion Control Projects were selected, including the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Manette Bridge Replacement Project. The project replaced an existing system of potholes discharging stormwater directly to the Puget Sound with a conveyance and treatment system based on a low-impact development concept. For more information, link to the Storm Water Solutions, Nov./Dec. 2012 Issue. (1-3-13)

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