Report Cites Need for Major Shift in Storm Water Regulation
A new report from the National Research Council finds that today’s storm water regulation under the U.S. Clean Water Act provides an ineffective approach to improving the nation’s water quality, a long-standing view of NAHB.
“Radical changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's storm water program are necessary to reverse degradation of fresh water resources and ensure progress toward the Clean Water Act's goal of fishable and swimmable waters,” the council said in a press release. The organization is part of the National Academies, which assessed the program at the EPA’s request.
The council recommended that storm water be regulated by watershed rather than by individual jurisdictions — a major shift in current regulatory policies, but one that recognizes the many sources of storm water, including roads.
While agricultural activities are responsible for more than half of the pollutants discharged into the nation’s rivers, bays and other bodies of water, their effect on water quality was not included in the study.
NAHB environmental and regulatory staff members are now evaluating the research and conclusions contained in the two-inch-thick report. Among other highlights of the council’s findings:
- The idea of regulating storm water to improve water quality was doomed from the start because so much urban development had already been constructed before the act was signed in 1972. The storm water systems in place were designed to control flooding, not improve water quality — two goals that are often in opposition. New construction, meanwhile, tends to have a more positive impact on water quality because it takes water quality needs into consideration.
- More research is needed on the effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) such as specially designed silt fences and other technologies. The council emphasized the importance of low-impact development techniques, including rain gardens and swales, as well as reducing impervious surfaces in new development.
- Storm water controls should focus on the importance of reducing the volume of runoff and not just the chemicals that are in the water.
NAHB is planning a summary of the report that will be available on the association’s Web site. For additional information, e-mail Calli Schmidt, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.
'Storm Water Permitting: A Guide for Builders and Developers' Available at BuilderBooks.com
“Storm Water Permitting: A Guide for Builders and Developers,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides a starting point for builders and developers to use in locating and understanding storm water permitting requirements.
The publication has been prepared to help builders comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's storm water requirements, and includes information on state permitting programs and more than 50 of the most commonly used best management practices. Also included are tips on compliance, including how to handle visits from inspectors.
To view or purchase this guide online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.