, October 20, 2008 (ENS) - The Maryland Department of Environment Friday posted its proposed regulations to implement the Stormwater Management Act of 2007, which requires developers to use state-of-the-art environmental site design practices wherever possible to control runoff and pollution from both new development and redevelopment.
This approach to reducing stormwater runoff and pollution uses a combination of enhanced site planning techniques, alternative permeable covers, vegetative buffers, and small-scale treatment practices to address the impacts associated with development.
"With a renewed sense of urgency, Maryland has taken significant actions to clean up pollution from wastewater treatment plants, agriculture, car emissions, and power plants - but stormwater runoff remains a challenge," said Maryland Department of the Environment Deputy Secretary Bob Summers.
Polluted stormwater runoff damages local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay because it spreads excess nutrients, sediment, toxic chemicals, and trash and causes stream erosion and flooding.
According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, 17 percent of phosphorus, 11 percent of nitrogen, and nine percent of sediment loads to the Bay come from urban and suburban runoff.
New home development in Chesnut Ridge, Maryland (Photo by Gary Hymes)
Maryland is legally committed to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution from stormwater runoff in the Bay watershed as part of the 2000 Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
"These new regulations carry out the legislature's mandate in passing the 2007 Stormwater Management Act, and they are what we need in Maryland to ensure that stormwater pollution from new development and redevelopment is controlled as much as possible to significantly advance our Bay restoration efforts in urban and suburban watersheds," said Summers.
The Maryland Department of the Environment says the new regulations and an updated general permit for stormwater from new construction due to be released later this month show it is using a comprehensive approach in addressing stormwater - which is nationally recognized as a serious problem.
Under the new stormwater regulations, Environmental Site Design Low Impact Development practices must be used wherever possible on new development sites and these practices will be added to Maryland's Stormwater Design Manual.
Local governments must adopt ordinances to ensure the new policies and practices in the Maryland Stormwater Design manual are implemented and enforced.
For each new development, a comprehensive stormwater management plan must consider all aspects of project planning, design, and construction from initial conception through final approval.
For sites being redeveloped, the new regulations require reducing the existing impervious area by at least 50 percent, implementing Environmental Site Design to provide water quality treatment for at least 50 percent of the existing impervious area, or using a combination of both options to address at least 50 percent of the existing site's impervious area.
In addition to improving stormwater controls through regulations on new and existing development, the Deparrtment of the Environment encourages property owners to reduce stormwater runoff by using permeable paving surfaces such as wood decks, bricks, and concrete lattice; directing runoff from impervious surfaces into vegetated areas; allowing vegetated buffer strips to grow alongside waterways; planting trees, shrubs, and groundcover; discontinuing or limiting the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides; and reducing bare patches on lawns.
"There are both economic and environmental benefits to changing Maryland's stormwater management program to improve our water quality, protect our stream channels, and restore our watersheds, said Jay Sakai, MDE director of water management "Cleaning up polluted stormwater runoff also reduces threats to public health and improves our access to clean rivers, streams, and the coastal and Chesapeake bays."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.
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