EPA Rules for Chesapeake Bay Watershed Raise Concerns
Home builders associations whose members build in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed are closely watching U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to develop Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements for the region and studying how these new regulations would affect the building industry.
The issue holds consequences for builders elsewhere in the country because, once in place, the Chesapeake Bay TMDL is likely to be used as a model for similar plans in other watersheds throughout the U.S. — with the possiblel goal of “no discharge” development.
A mid-March conference call with NAHB staff members included a detailed discussion about the proposal, which will be published this summer for comments and changes and must be in place by May 1, 2011.
Bay states subject to the TMDL will rely on Low Impact Development (LID) in place of traditional best management practices to reduce sediment, nutrients and peak flows from new construction sites and from redevelopment in urban areas.
To use LID techniques — which include permeable pavements, green roofs, rain gardens, swales and other devices that allow the storm water to seep into the ground — builders will need to obtain more information about the building site than has been required in the past. Many builders have limited experience with choosing and installing LID devices and estimating the associated costs — including the risk of their failure — and providing for their maintenance.
When finished, the TMDL will cover 64,000 square miles in six states and the District of Columbia, making it the largest and most complex regulation if its kind, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program, a partnership of affected states, advisory groups and the EPA.
The NAHB environmental issues staff will provide the EPA with comments on the proposal after discussions with affected HBAs. In addition, the Pennsylvania Home Builders Association is spearheading a study of the computer modeling that the EPA used to develop its TMDL proposal. That study is expected to be completed in May.
For additional information, e-mail Glynn Rountree at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8662.