The Official Online Weekly Newspaper of NAHB
While the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Herculean” effort to cleanup the Chesapeake Bay is only in its early stages and the specifics of the program are still being worked out, a new study from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) suggests that developers and home owners in the bay’s watershed are among those who will be expected to pay for the costs of low-impact development and other measures to restore the bay.
Considering possible approaches for reducing the amount of pollutants and sediment flowing into the bay, the academy’s publication states that, “One relatively easy urban/suburban nutrient management strategy to implement is a “no net increase in nutrient loading” requirement, which would apply to new construction and redevelopment when various transactions occur, such as land sales, zoning changes or land-use changes.”
Going a step further, the study suggests, “Communities might even require a percentage reduction in loadings associated with these occurrences, especially for redevelopment, as a means to attain load reduction goals.”
Glynn Rountree, NAHB’s environmental policy analyst, said that builders are going to have to negate nutrients coming off active construction projects in order to meet the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), or pollutants, established for the bay’s restoration.
Home owners, he said, including the owners of existing homes, will also be required to pay fees to limit the flow of storm water from their properties.
The report, “Achieving Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Goals in the Chesapeake Bay: An Evaluation of Program Strategies and Implementation,” provides an outsider’s perspective on federal efforts to restore the bay’s water quality.
In addition to techniques to offset the impact of new growth and development, the report also addresses regulatory strategies to improve storm water management and to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers on residential lawns.
Developed at the request of the EPA, the research effort did not examine the Chesapeake Bay TMDL itself, nor the computer models used to develop it.
For a four-page summary of the report — including a link to a pre-publication version of the entire 184-page study — click here.
In the report, a committee appointed by the academy’s National Research Council has evaluated the plans for tracking nutrient and sediment practices needed to meet the TMDL, along with the plans for accounting for the reductions in pollutants resulting from those practices.
In addition, the committee assessed the two-year milestones being used to judge the progress of the states in the bay’s watershed in meeting the TMDL, along with the use of “adaptive management” in the program.
The report also suggests ways to improve the coordination of the program among the states, correct technical issues and enhance individual responsibility through education and incentives.
The Chesapeake Bay Program is developing a formal response to the report, which it expects to deliver to the NAS in August.
For information on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, email Glynn Rountree, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8662.