Runoff Remedies


Aug. 4, 2014 — As regulators renew their focus on stormwater, water agencies around the country are working as quickly and cost-effectively as possible to find better, more cost-effective solutions to their stormwater challenges. Foremost among these are allocating capital resources, human resources and technology in ways that get the job done in a time of competing community and regulatory priorities.

At first glance, the management of non-point source pollution can seem daunting. Communities and entities, however, are developing creative solutions to leverage existing programs, as well as coming up with new models of inter-agency planning and collaboration that are delivering exciting results.

Here are three examples, some of which will be featured at this year's StormCon:


Dixie Drain

The City of Boise, Idaho, worked with regulators to implement a plan that includes the purchase of 49 acres to serve as a non-point source treatment facility that cost-effectively removes total phosphorus and sediment for 40,000 acres of agricultural land.

It serves as a non-point source water quality alternative to additional treatment and TP load reduction at Boise's wastewater treatment facilities (point sources) and potentially other municipal wastewater treatment facilities that discharge to the Boise River. Brown and Caldwell prepared the concept plan of the enhanced treatment facility, which involves sedimentation in combination with a coagulant addition to precipitate TP from the diverted agricultural flows.

The Dixie Drain so-named because the water drains into settling ponds, working in tandem with the city's existing water treatment facilities is a landmark project because it reflects an unprecedented collaboration with regulators to develop a novel approach to stormwater management.

The city, with help from a team led by Brown and Caldwell, forged a plan that all stakeholders regulators (EPA Region 10, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality), congressional leaders, local elected officials, and water and wastewater agencies embraced.

"This innovative project can help catalyze water quality improvements in the Boise River watershed, creating the opportunity for trading between municipalities and agriculture that should ultimately provide both environmental and economic benefits for all," EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran told the Idaho Statesman.



  The Dixie Drain is a landmark project because it reflects an unprecedented collaboration
  with regulators to develop a novel approach to stormwater management.

Sustainable Scioto

The Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is developing a flexible management plan that can adapt to the impacts of climate change on the agency's water quantity and quality. With help from Brown and Caldwell, MORPC partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey, the City of Columbus, Del-Co Water Co. and the Ohio Water Development Authority to develop Sustainable Scioto, a science-based effort to secure quality clean water supplies for the future of the region.

Two million people in the region rely on the Scioto River for drinking water, and the system is designed, built and operated based on historical rainfall records. But the climate in the region is changing, and the future could be different. That's why a partnership was created to look ahead and find solutions to adapt and be prepared.

The USGS created a computer model that projects the impacts of extreme weather on water resources, and Brown and Caldwell scientists and engineers developed water demand and land use projections based on the study, along with a risk analysis and water budget that looks as far ahead as 2099. The water budget is being used to identify risks and vulnerabilities to the region's water resources and infrastructure.

The result is an adaptive management plan that addresses future conditions and sustainable growth for the region. It includes strategies to manage water quality and quantity during changing climatic conditions, including extreme drought or flood, and it identifies adaptive management strategies to mitigate the identified risks to water quality and supply within the region.

"Sustainable Scioto is a great example of Central Ohio being ahead of the curve," says MORPC Executive Director William Murdock. "Our region's growth and vitality depend on the sustainability of our water resources and our communities being prepared for the challenges ahead."

MORPC's Sustainable Scioto
 MORPC's Sustainable Scioto is an adaptive management plan that addresses future conditions
 and sustainable growth for the region.


Stormwater-friendly upgrade

Montgomery County, Md., is the first MS4 Phase I community required to achieve the stringent requirements established under Maryland's current NPDES permit cycle, including a 20 percent impervious cover restoration requirement. The permit requires the restoration of 4,300 acres, or 6.7 square miles of property, "that's equivalent to 32,912 football fields," according to the county.

The county's permit was finalized in 2010 as part of the state's strategy to improve local water quality and restore the Chesapeake Bay, both of which require significant nutrient reductions to reverse impairments and achieve local and federal water quality objectives.

The county has developed a coordinated, watershed-based strategy to restore nearly 4,000 acres of existing impervious surface to achieve permit compliance and address TMDL Wasteload Allocations, all while educating and engaging the community, and building the design, construction and organizational capacity needed to effectively deliver more than $300 million in improvements to seven of its eight watersheds during the next five years.

The program is being closely watched by other communities and is expected to become a model for other agencies.

Montgomery County has developed a coordinated, watershed-based strategy to restore nearly 4,000 acres of existing impervious surface.