Category: Watersheds, Wetlands & Stormwater (page 1 of 11)

Envisioning the Future of Water: Three Lessons Learned from One City

In March, the UNC Institute for the Environment hosted the Clean Tech Summit, a multi-day event in which students and professionals  convene and foster leadership and discussion among the Southeast’s clean tech industry. Many summit panels incorporated and focused on the topic of water management in all its forms: drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater.

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The State of Stormwater Fees in North Carolina

What is the average household stormwater fee in North Carolina? This is a harder question to answer than you might assume. User fees for stormwater management are influenced by many factors, including a utility’s service population, the importance of managing stormwater runoff to the community, and the amount of impervious surface. The Environmental Finance Center (EFC) recently completed a statewide stormwater fee survey in North Carolina. We collected and analyzed 73 different service area fee structures. These structures paint a picture of North Carolina’s stormwater management across the state.

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Conserving Water through Smart Growth and Density

Smart Growth programs—developing urban areas with a variety of building types and land uses in a concentrated space—are touted for their potential to spur economic development through the creation of more attractive, environmentally sustainable, and walkable communities. One underlying theme is that increased urban density allows people to access a variety of shops, housing options, and recreational areas without having to hop in their cars. The most commonly cited potential benefits of smart growth include improved public health, higher air quality due to reduced vehicle traffic, more efficient use of land, protection of valued natural or open spaces from sprawl, increased property values because of high demand, and often greater community involvement in the development process.

A recent post on the School of Government’s Community and Economic Development blog outlined some examples of Smart Growth programs here in North Carolina, and Glenn Barnes earlier wrote about five ‘tools’ included in the EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. This post examines what I think is a sometimes overlooked benefit of Smart Growth and higher densities: water conservation.

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A Whole New World – of Stormwater!

Many of you know us for our Financial Sustainability and Rates Dashboards, but you may not know that these are not just limited to water and wastewater rates: there’s also stormwater! In recent years stormwater has perhaps not received the attention it deserves. Five years ago the EFC created stormwater fee dashboards for North Carolina and Georgia, and this year we’re taking them to a whole new level. For 2017 we are unveiling new stormwater dashboards for both Georgia and (eventually) North Carolina with a host of new features. The new dashboard comes at a time when  stormwater has been catapulted into the limelight as the hot topic of the moment in Georgia environmental legislation.

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Community Development through EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program

Many of the local governments we assist at the Environmental Finance Center struggle to raise enough money to support their environmental services. Often, we work with these communities to improve the finance and management of their systems through better rate setting, cost controls, and long-term planning. But another solution for struggling communities is to increase and strengthen their customer base through community and economic development.

EPA has a number of programs and resources aimed to revitalize communities through “Smart Growth” economic development, which builds upon existing assets, takes incremental actions to strengthen communities, and builds long-term value to attract a range of investments. In previous posts on the School of Government’s Community and Economic Development blog, we looked at aspects of EPA’s Smart Growth initiative including their new Framework tool for Small Cities and Towns as well as Smart Growth efforts here in North Carolina. This post examines another aspect of the Smart Growth initiative: the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.

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