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.

Rain Barrel

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.

What is the SMART Tool?

SMART Dashboard

The SMART tool is an interactive, web-based mapping, tracking and reporting tool that provides a credible and certifiable way to account for 10 small-scale practices can be implemented by property owners and 9 larger-scale that are typically implemented on private properties by a professional.  The tool allows individuals to upload their BMP data to a local website, where the data is tracked and certified by trained individuals. SMART incorporates all approved nutrient and sediment reduction information approved by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Water Quality Goal Implementation Team to calculate and report out individual and aggregate reductions for each BMP tracked.  This reporting ability allows for the adoption of small-scale BMP’s into the formal accounting of nutrient and sediment reductions of local TMDL/Phase II WIP, NPDES and MS4 permit requirements and could potentially result in considerable quantifiable cost-savings for local governments.

While small-scale stormwater BMPs 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. SMART empowers environmentally conscience private property owners to report stormwater practices and reinforces positive behaviors by providing a forum for their beneficial actions.   When accessed, the web-based dashboard depicts the many stormwater BMPs being installed and the impacts of those practices across states, counties, municipalities and watersheds.  Additionally, it provides the images and information about the installed stormwater practices to educate and inspire property owners without stormwater BMPs on their property take action along with their neighbors.

What Stormwater BMPs Does the SMART Tool Track?

The SMART Tool tracks 19 different stormwater best management practices.  These practices are divided into two groups:

Common Homeowner BMPs

  • Conversion from impervious to turf/conservation landscaping
  • Conversion from turf grass to conservation landscaping
  • Downspout Redirect
  • Landscape Certifications
  • Lawn and Yard Management
  • Permeable Pavers
  • Rain Barrels and Cisterns
  • Rain Gardens
  • Septic Pumping 
  • Tree Planting

Larger Scale BMPs

  • Bioretention
  • Bioswales and Open Vegetative Channels
  • Dumpsite Cleanup
  • Green Roof
  • Infiltration Trench or Basin
  • Lawn Depression/Infiltration
  • Pet Waste Station
  • Riparian Buffer Planting
  • Shoreline Management
  • Smart tool logo

    SMART Tool

    Go the SMART Tool to report a your stormwater practice or check out what others are doing.

  • SMART Tool Data Entry Instructions

    Need some help in with entering your information on the SMART Tool - check out our written and video instructions.