What types of environmental policies are protecting your local waterways?
When the US Environmental Protection Agency was first created, most regulations followed a command-and-control model in which polluters must meet requirements individually. Today, market-based environmental policies are increasingly popular. Todd BenDor, Associate Professor and Director of UNC’s City and Regional Planning PhD Program, recently gave a lecture on water quality trading and transfer of development rights programs and discussed his plans for research on these two types of market-based policies.
Water quality trading can be a viable means for producing substantial cost savings while meeting water quality goals. But what exactly is water quality trading and how can a community take full advantage of it? This post explores some of the potential benefits associated with water quality trading and hurdles to implementing a successful program. Continue reading
Stormwater incentive programs are a creative tool used by some towns and cities to encourage community participation in stormwater management practices. Many of the incentive programs encourage citizens to install green stormwater infrastructure projects on their property. Stormwater ‘incentive’ programs can be found in municipalities across the United States and can take on a variety of formats; rebates, grants, cost sharing, and loans are some of the most popular methods. These programs usually offer incentives for both commercial and residential property owners, and they encourage projects like rain gardens, cisterns, rain barrels, green roofs, bioswales, permeable pavers, and native tree plantings.
Projects like this help improve the water quality of impacted water bodies by preventing pollutants from entering waterways and mitigating flooding problems in impacted areas. While the benefit of using these practices is substantial, offering financial incentives tends to boost interest from property owners to participate in such programs. Continue reading
To address the huge costs of stormwater management, communities across the nation are creating new programs to attract investment. But what are the key conditions and governing structure needed to encourage higher private investment in localized stormwater management? The EFC at UNC recently examined this question with a group of stormwater professionals from 31 states and Washington DC. Hosted by SESWA, the discussion focused on different communities’ approaches to folding incentives into a stormwater management plan. We took the perspective of a downtown parking lot owner, weighing our financial options as we sought to mitigate stormwater effects on our property. Would we install green infrastructure on our parking lot?
Restoration and protection of wetlands is one of the four core elements of a wetland program, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some restoration and protection takes place through wetland regulatory activities, such as during the 401 certification of a development project that disturbs a wetland. In other cases, wetland restoration and protection is voluntary—restoring and protecting the wetland is not tied to a specific regulatory activity but is desired to achieve overall water quality goals. If that wetland is on public land, the unit of government that owns the land can, if funds are available, protect it.
But what about wetlands and other water quality features that are on private property? How can a unit of government encourage the voluntary protection of those crucial water quality features?