Category: Watersheds, Wetlands & Stormwater (Page 1 of 15)

Using the Revenueshed Model to Investigate Watershed Funding

What is a revenueshed?

A revenueshed is the geographic area within which revenue is generated for a defined purpose. It’s a play on words of watershed, an area that drains all water to a common outlet. The purpose of the revenueshed is to model methods of revenue generation for a designated funding goal using new and existing mechanisms. The revenueshed also expands those who pay beyond the traditional polluter pays model by incorporating additional beneficiaries into the model. For example, rather than using solely the boundary of a watershed to source funding for a water quality project, a wider boundary could be drawn to include local governments holding drinking water allocations for the specified water body[1].

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Regionalization Among Local Governments – A Spotlight on Beach Nourishment in North Carolina

Every year, North Carolina coasts are a destination for tens of thousands of tourists and locals. But how often do visitors to NC’s beaches think about the strategies to keep beaches pristine? Every year, coastal erosion, a natural process exacerbated by factors like coastal development and climate change, eats away at the wide beaches that attract so many visitors.

What is Beach Nourishment?

Coastal erosion is the process by which local sea level rise, strong wave action, and coastal flooding wear down sands along the coast. Coastal communities adapt to these threats with shoreline stabilization measures. Shoreline stabilization is performed with the use of soft structures and hard structures. Historically, coastal municipalities have fought erosion with the use of hard structures. These solutions include rock, concrete, and steel to build sea walls, sills, and breakwaters. Soft structures are natural, and can include the use of fabrics, beach dewatering systems, sand bags, re-vegetation, and beach nourishment.

In 2003, the NC General Assembly banned hard structures in coastal erosion management, so the majority of coastal municipalities in North Carolina now rely on soft structures, specifically beach nourishment, to stabilize their shorelines. Beach nourishment is the process of adding large amounts of sand or sediment to the beach in order to resist erosion and increase the width of the beach. Sand is typically dredged from another location; usually, from the offshore portion of the site being nourished. Historically, beach nourishment projects have been performed on a town-by-town basis. Evidence suggests that towns tend to make isolated decisions about beach nourishment that do not account for their neighbors. Continue reading

Stormwater Utility Fees in North Carolina: Fiscal Year 2020

The Environmental Finance Center has completed the 2020 North Carolina Stormwater Fee Survey. The survey includes 93 stormwater fee structures effective July 1, 2019There are 6 utilities in this year’s survey that were not in last year’s survey.  Additionally, there is one fee structure that is not included this year as the city of New Bern dissolved their stormwater fee after the 2019 fiscal year.  

The Residential Stormwater Utility Fee Dashboard has been updated! Use the comparison groups on the left side of the Dashboard to compare stormwater fees by region, by NPDES MS4 permit designation, and by similar population.  You can also download our tables of stormwater fees and fee structures to analyze stormwater fees for residential, non-residential, and multifamily customers.  Continue reading

A Closer Look at MS4 Audit Trends in North Carolina

Written by: Ryan Vulpis

In the state of North Carolina, many stormwater programs are required by the US EPA to maintain a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. This permit is designed to ensure that jurisdictions protect water quality within its jurisdiction by meeting six minimum control measures (MCM).

1. public education and outreach 2. public involvement and participation 3. illicit discharge detection and elimination 4. construction site stormwater runoff controls 5. post-construction stormwater management 6. pollution prevention and good housekeeping

In 2019, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) began auditing MS4 permit holders according to a 5-year audit schedule, intending to audit 20 percent of the State’s permit holders on an annual basis. NC DEQ plans to audit permittees within the state on a five-year cycle to ensure continued compliance. The three possible outcomes of an audit are a notice of compliance (NOC), notice of deficiency (NOD), or notice of violation (NOV) depending on if an infraction is found and the nature of the infraction(s) found. NODs and NOVs serve to alert the permit holders of infractions and request that the infractions be rectified immediately [1]. The EFC analyzed 29 audits completed by NC DEQ for trends in items of deficiency and non-compliance across stormwater programs. While two of the audited communities received notices of compliance, two communities received notices of deficiency and 25 communities received notices of violation. Continue reading

A New Fee: Why Develop a Stormwater Utility, Where does the Money Go?

Leigh DeForest is a graduate fellow in the 2019 Leaders in Environment and Finance (LEAF) program. As a part of the LEAF Fellowship, Leigh spent the summer of 2019 working at Triangle J Council of Governments. While at Triangle J she researched the ancillary benefits of stormwater utilities and green stormwater infrastructure as well as contributing to the Jordan Lake One Water initiative.

When communities consider establishing a potential new stormwater fee, residents may inquire about why they are being charged and where their money is going. Forming a stormwater utility fee creates a dedicated revenue source that can be used to support long-term planning for the control of urban stormwater runoff that benefits both the community’s functionality and the surrounding environment. Both permitted and non-permitted municipalities can benefit from instituting a stormwater utility. Continue reading

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