The Community-Based Public-Private Partnership Approach: A Revolution In Funding And Financing Green Infrastructure
Stormwater runoff is now recognized across the U.S. as a major water pollution source – and the only source that continues to grow in many watersheds across the country. Rising impacts lead to increased regulation – and increased costs. The traditional method to plan, design, construct, inspect and maintain stormwater infrastructure is through a piecemeal project-oriented fashion using almost exclusively public funding. This approach is littered with cost inefficiencies, which drives up costs, and often limits the scale of implementation efforts.
A new approach, known as a “Community-Based Public-Private Partnership” (CBP3), has developed through an effort led by EPA Region III to enable communities to more readily and cost-effectively meet stormwater (MS4) and wet weather (CSO) regulatory obligations. The CBP3 model can accelerate the implementation of green infrastructure (GI) as well as greatly reducing the costs of urban stormwater retrofits by streamlining inefficient procurement processes, focusing on outcome-based efforts (rather than piecemeal project efforts) to meet goals, leveraging stormwater utility fees, and maximizing economies of scale. A hallmark of the CBP3 approach is the commitment to social goals through setting robust requirements for local jobs, and providing a platform for economic growth and revitalization associated with large-scale GI investments. Additionally, in this framework (based upon the military housing private investment model), the community benefits through the structure of the CBP3 to reinvest savings through efficiencies in implementation back into more “greened” acres rather than simply taking the savings as profits realized. The first application of the CBP3 approach for GI investments is being led by the Clean Watershed Partnership in Prince George’s County, Maryland to retrofit 2,000 acres of impervious cover in three years, with the goal of addressing an additional 13,000 acres. Interest in CBP3s has been growing across the country, as there is recognition of the universal applicability of this approach.
The stormwater CBP3 model is especially relevant in California. As California strives to respond to drought and climate change and restore its groundwater reserves, stormwater CBP3s could play a significant role in securing the state’s water future. Three legislative changes in the last year set the stage for stormwater CBP3s in California. Assembly Bill 2403 clarified that fees imposed to fund the capture (including recharge into a groundwater basin), treatment, production and distribution of stormwater as a water supply source are fees imposed for water services, and therefore are not subject to voter approval requirements under Proposition 218. This clarification is especially helpful given that increased stormwater capture will become necessary under the terms of the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Meanwhile the legislation enabling the creation of Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs) provides a new tool that facilitates integrated, regional approaches to developing and financing stormwater infrastructure.
Against this backdrop, this presentation will
• Introduce and explain the concepts of Public-Private Partnerships generally and CBP3 specifically;
• Highlight the legislative changes that set stage for stormwater CBP3s in California;
• Include presentations from the public and private sector leaders who pioneered the stormwater CBP3 in Prince George’s County Maryland, with a focus on
o The key governance, financing, and risk allocation terms of their partnership
o The key lessons learned through forging their partnership
• An overview of EIFDs with a focus on
o How they can facilitate stormwater infrastructure development
o How they can facilitate stormwater CBP3s