Integrating Green Infrastructure Requirements into Municipal Stormwater Permits
The use of green infrastructure is recognized as an effective practice to reduce stormwater flow, improve water quality and provide other benefits in highly impervious urban areas. The practice has been widely implemented in large urban areas served by combined sewer systems, due to regulatory and economic drivers, but less extensively in urban areas with municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). At the same time, MS4s in California are faced with complying with multiple TMDLs and addressing the runoff and associated pollutant loads generated by impervious surfaces in the public right-of-way. In the San Francisco Bay Area, in order to encourage increased use of green infrastructure in urban areas with MS4s, the Regional Water Quality Control Board included in the current Phase I Municipal Regional Stormwater Permit (MRP) a requirement that the permittees complete ten pilot green street or parking lot projects across the region by 2015. To date, permittees collectively have nearly completed all ten required projects and have begun planning and design of at least ten additional projects. As the permit reissuance date draws near, Bay Area permittees have begun a process for conducting focused discussions with Regional Water Board staff about the next MRP (“MRP 2.0”). It is Board staff’s expectations that MRP 2.0 will take green infrastructure to the next level, i.e., that permittees will be required to begin the process of developing and implementing long term watershed-scale green infrastructure (GI) plans to achieve water quality improvements. These requirements are intended to not only provide more low impact development (LID) site design and treatment on public projects but to also achieve quantitative load reduction goals for PCBs, mercury, trash, and other contaminants. To further explore what GI requirements would be effective and implementable, a Green Streets Work Group was formed consisting of stormwater program managers, transportation and public works department representatives, and Water Board staff. The goals of the Work Group were to: 1) discuss approaches to long term planning for GI; 2) discuss integration of GI planning/funding with existing transportation planning/funding; and 3) identify short term actions associated with long term GI planning that are reasonable to include in MRP 2.0. This presentation will describe the integrated approach conceived by the Green Streets Work Group to developing and implementing a long term GI plan, address the opportunities and barriers to implementation identified by the Work Group, and describe the potential short term actions that may be included in the permit or needed to support permit required actions. The integrated approach includes the following elements: outside and local funding, planning/prioritization (including GIS mapping), data (costs, benefits, and infrastructure characteristics), public education and support, political support, policies/resolutions, retrofit banking/alternative compliance, and design and maintenance specifications. The presentation will conclude with examples of several Bay Area municipalities that have already begun developing and implementing long term GI plans, and time permitting, will invite input from the audience on approaches being taken in other parts of the state.
Jill Bicknell is a water resources engineer and manager at EOA, Inc. in Sunnyvale, CA. She earned a B.S. in Civil/Environmental Engineering at the University of Vermont, and a M.S. in Water Resources Engineering from Stanford University, and has over 25 years of consulting engineering and project management experience. Jill has served as the contracted Assistant Program Manager for the Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program (SCVURPPP) for over 15 years. She also assists the Alameda and San Mateo Countywide Programs. Her current focus is assisting municipalities with implementation of permit requirements for control of stormwater pollution from land development and construction activities, with an emphasis on Low Impact Development (LID) and hydromodification management measures. Jill represents SCVURPPP on the CASQA Board of Directors and is currently Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Executive Program Committee.