Making Every Practice Count
Stormwater remains one of the most difficult and expensive sources of Chesapeake Bay pollution to control. While a great deal of attention and resources have been committed to the wide scale adoption of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) to manage stormwater, many counties and towns are increasingly faced with stormwater issues coming from smaller scale residential and private properties. According to the progress of the Chesapeake Bay Program, pollution from urban/suburban stormwater is actually increasing compared to all other sources. While individual actions taken on these smaller properties, such as the installation of rain barrels and rain gardens, may only have a small effect on nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution, total pollution reductions can become substantial when these actions are multiplied over hundreds of properties within a watershed.
Small-scale residential stormwater BMPs are most often voluntarily installed by environmentally conscientious property owners but are rarely effectively tracked by county and municipal agencies. Under the current Chesapeake Bay TMDL situation, where any water quality practice must be counted and tracked to receive a nutrient and sediment reduction credit, there is no incentive for the investment in these small-scale, non-regulated stormwater BMP’s. The ability to count, track, certify and aggregate these BMP’s will document additional quantifiable water quality benefits across the Watershed.
In an effort to promote greater engagement by property owners in Bay restoration, the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Urban Stormwater Work Group approved a streamlined verification procedure for these non-regulated BMPs. The basic premise is to simplify the property owner BMP reporting process while still retaining a high degree of quality assurance with the actual installation of each BMP being certified by a designated third party or a local government at time of construction/installation. The Stormwater Management and Restoration Tracking (SMART) Tool, developed by the University of Maryland Extension Sea Grant Watershed Protection and Restoration Program, in partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake and the Center for GIS at Towson University, provides the needed mechanisms to track, certify and report progress on these small-scale, non-regulated BMPs.