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USDA – Conservation Measures Have Reduced Runoff to Chesapeake Bay

The agriculture industry's impact to water quality is very significant and the USDA has been doing its part to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay – to the tune of $650 million over the past 5 years.  This investment is paying off.   A recent study shows that there has been a reduction of phosphorous and nitrogen levels in the Bay since 2006.   These signs of improvement are encouraging, but there is still much that will need to be accomplished in order to re-establish the Bay’s ecosystem.   Read more about it from the Hampton Roads Pilot Online here. Additional news coverage of the announcemetn from NewsLeader.com...

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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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More and More Communities Making it Easier to Conserve Rainwater

Recently, the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District hosted a rain barrel workshop where local residents learned more about the benfits of rainwater harvesting not only towards rainwater/water conservation, but also how rain barrels can help homeowners to reduce their stormwater impact. Nicola McGoff with the TJSWCD  discussed the environmental benefits (of rain barrels) like saving energy and reducing stormwater runoff, which in turn reduces the amount of sediments, bacteria and chemicals carried into natural water sources during rainfalls. http://www2.nelsoncountytimes.com/news/nelson-news/2012/apr/25/rain-barrels-not-just-farmers-ar-1867924/ Is your community offering similar programs to help the environment and educate the citizenry?...

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Facing the Challenges of a Stormwater Utility

Stormwater utility fees are coming….the ripple effect of the latest USEPA mandates for the Chesapeake Bay watershed is being felt throughout the Commonwealth. With these mandates and future more stringent state and federal regulations on the horizon, municipalities need a source of funding to develop programs and construct projects that control and reduce the volume and quality of stormwater runoff. The process of developing a stormwater utility program and fee structure is a long one, but, as in the City of Lynchburg, these are conversations that need to begin - and soon - with public education as the main focus. As the waves of stormwater regulations pick up speed and momentum, engaging the public early and throughout the program will pay dividends in the future, both politically and for the environment. Storm Water Challenges Vex the City By The News & Advance Published: May 04, 2011 If you want some idea of the result when storm...

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How Proposed Regulations May Impact Local Ordinances

The upcoming regulations will hopefully result in more design flexibility and better stormwater quality. However, for these regulations to work to their fullest extent, localities will need to make changes to development ordinances to fit with the new approach. Here are some examples: The most cost effective way for developers to reduce runoff volume is to never build pavement. However, the local ordinances often drive the need for pavement through required parking, road width, fire access, road and other factors. There is very good discussion of this in the book Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. A few localities in Virginia have started the process of reducing requirements for pavement in their ordinances, but there is a long way to go. The new regulations use sheet flow across undeveloped and landscaped areas as a way to reduce runoff volume. It makes a lot of sense...

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