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Strategies for Success with Environmental Regulatory Relations: Part 3

We’ve been discussing strategies for better relations with environmental regulators. We talked about building positive relationships in Part 1 and communicating our interests in Part 2. In this article, we focus on the process and not the people to achieve a desired outcome.   STRATEGY NO. 3 Focus on the process, not the people. Management Consultant, Edwards Deming said, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” Any number of competent people can make the same mistakes when using a faulty or cumbersome process. Likewise, if we dismiss the regulatory process and focus solely on the regulatory personnel, we may overlook the root cause of difficulties when navigating a complex bureaucratic system. Consider the regulator’s perspective. Industry advocates or public watchdog groups often challenge their decisions. The regulator is held responsible when environmental problems occur (i.e. Why did you issue that permit? Why didn’t you shut them down?). They anticipate the worst possible...

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Strategies for Success with Environmental Regulatory Relations: Part 2

We’ve been discussing strategies to help your business have better relations with environmental regulators. Almost every business interest has some environmental impact, which means you probably are regulated by your local or state environmental agency, or maybe the US EPA directly. We talked about building positive relationships in Part 1. Now we want to think about the best way to communicate with regulators to achieve a desired outcome.   STRATEGY NO. 2 Communicate your interests, instead of stating your position. Most people will argue a point based on what they want (their position) instead of why they want it (their interests). The classic example to illustrate this concept is the story of two sous chefs arguing over a single orange in the kitchen. Each is adamant that they need a whole orange for their individual recipes. When the Executive Chef asks why each needs a whole orange, the first chef says their recipe calls for...

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Strategies for Success with Environmental Regulatory Relations: Part 1

Does your business affect the environment? Perhaps you need a permit. Maybe an inspector visited your site and discovered violations. No doubt you have found yourself in the company of federal, state, or local regulators. Sometimes those interactions go well, sometimes… not so much. Environmental regulatory issues can be dreadful affairs, but they don’t have to be. In this three-part series, we will explore useful strategies to help achieve a favorable outcome.   STRATEGY NO. 1 Build positive relationships with regulators and your surrounding community. Bob Burg’s now famous relationship-building principle known as the “know, like, trust” factor is a sales concept that can apply to regulatory relations too. The basic principle is that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Of course, we are not selling to regulators, but it is a transactional relationship, such as receiving a permit or negotiating a penalty. How well we are known, our likeability...

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Upcoming Webinar Looks at Green Infrastructure in Stormwater Management

Road surfaces play a huge role in stormwater runoff and green infrastructure is one way to meet stormwater management head on that is both affordable and resilient. To that end the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Wastewater Management and the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Project Development and Environmental Review are teaming up to co-sponsor the webcast "Innovative Transportation Stormwater Management: Green Infrastructure in Road Projects." The webinar will be conducted on March 6th from 1:00pm until 3:00pm Eastern. For more information and to register follow the link below: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/courses.cfm?program_id=0&outreach_id=688&o_type=1...

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Albemarle County’s Draft Water Protection Ordinance Advancing

Albemarle County staff have been working to meet State DEQ-mandated deadlines regarding stormwater regulations. In the coming months there will be one opportunity prior to the June 13th implementation deadline on May 15th to ask questions and provide comments to the County on how these regulations and new ordinances will affect the citizens and development community in the County. Currently, there are multiple bills in the General Assembly seeking to delay the implementation schedule so that localities can  better complete the planning process as well as receive input and feedback from their local communities. Please follow the link below to read more from Cville Magazine including viewpoints of several individuals representing organizations on various sides of the discussion. Please share your thoughts as well by commenting below. http://www.c-ville.com/going-clear-albemarles-complex-costly-quandary-over-stormwater-management/...

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City of Charlottesville Addressing Stormwater Management and EPA Fine

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently imposed a $26,000 fine on the City for violations of stormwater mitigation codes, it is not all bad news. Several of the violations were known to the City and the City had been in the process of correcting/improving situations. Additionally, the City has demonstrated a commitment to work towards compliance which also helped to reduce what was originally proposed to be a $50,000 fine. Counselor Dave Norris said. “We could have chosen a much more adversarial route [towards EPA] but this is a city that values stormwater management, so instead of fighting and bickering, we went to work.” Additional media covereage of the City's acceptance of the fine can be found by selecting the links below: http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/charlottesville-fined-for-stormwater-mitigation-violations/article_d086671a-e2b0-11e2-9bd1-001a4bcf6878.html http://www.nbc29.com/story/22746259/charlottesville-fined-26k-by-environmental-protection-agency...

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Sampling of the Middle and South River May Be Key to Accurate Nutrient Pollution Data

[caption id="attachment_1140" align="alignleft" width="300"] Middle RIver, Augusta County[/caption] Augusta County is voluntarily considering a sampling program to determine the amount of pollutants that are leaving the county via its two primary waterways – the Middle and South rivers.  Now that the EPA has provided the “green light” of acceptance, it’s back in the county’s court to decide whether to proceed with the sampling. The decision to move forward has been hinging on whether or not grants could be obtained to meet operational costs as well as uncertainty about whether the EPA would accept the data. EPA has now deemed that the proposed monitoring "is consistent with other monitoring being done as part of the Chesapeake Bay River monitoring program." Supervisors will revisit the sampling idea when they meet in late July. For more details, click to read the news article: http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/news/epa-says-it-would-accept-data-from-augusta-county-on/article_dbf1f1b0-decc-11e2-b36d-001a4bcf6878.html...

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Chesapeake Bay Cleanup to be About Collaboration and Accountability

The cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay is a huge multi-state effort that will span decades, making it perhaps the largest environmental restoration project in US history. Senator Mark Warner and Representative Robert Wittman have introduced the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act of 2013 (HR 739) to make the process more accountable at the federal level. Some of you may remember similar measures proposed in 2009 and 2011. If passed, this will require the EPA to develop a management plan for the Chesapeake Bay Program and restoration activities related to the bay. EPA would be required to update the management plan every two years. The legislation would require new financial reports on the Chesapeake Bay Program from the Office of Management and Budget and would require EPA to appoint an independent evaluator, who would review and report to the Congress on the plan. Read more about the proposed legislation that hopes...

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Report Details Strategies for Stormwater Improvements in James River Watershed

[caption id="attachment_1086" align="alignleft" width="300"] Stormwater Retrofit ()Henrico County, Virginia)[/caption] Now that the MS4 General Permit has been approved by the Board of Conservation & Recreation, the future is rapidly becoming now. Now is the time to determine compliance costs to budget the necessary funds. The report from the James River Association and the Center for Watershed Protection provides much useful cost information, hopefully the start of a continuing sharing of information. The report ranks treatment methods by cost effectiveness, with urban stream restoration ranked as the most cost effective. Though cost effective, stream restoration projects cannot be small projects. Upstream and downstream conditions affect hydraulically stablity, so it is difficult to restore short stream sections. There should still be room for smaller projects, such as parking lot retrofits. The James River Association has championed such projects through their Extereme Stream Makeover programs. Below is a photograph of one such retrofit in Henrico County, a bioretention area in a parking lot...

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Stormwater Utility Fees Viewed as Solution for Albemarle, Rural Counties As Well

While stormwater utility fees may seem to many like the kind of program that only densly populated cities and areas highly concentrated with impervious land (paved roadways, parking lots and building sites),  Albemarle County has joined other localities in Virginia that have a variety of development densities and is looking further into such a fee as a way to maintain current stormwater programs as well as planning for regulatory compliance. [caption id="attachment_1054" align="alignleft" width="240"] James River near Scottsville[/caption] Cities including Charlottesville have recently adopted stormwater utility fees to help pay for necessary maintenance and improvement of existing stormwater infrastructure. In the case of urban areas like Charlottesville, this fee is intended to pay for repairs and replacement of infrastructure including damaged/deteriorating stormwater pipes, culverts, maintenace of stormwater management facilities (often referred to as BMPs), curb and gutter, inlets, drainage improvements and other programs. So why are counties like Albemarle looking to a stormwater utility fee?...

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