Cost-Effective Stormwater Management in the James

Cost-Effective Stormwater Management in the JamesProject Overview

The James River Association and the Center for Watershed Protection conducted a study that provides local governments in the James River watershed with cost-effective solutions for meeting their stormwater pollution obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup.

Urban stormwater represents the fastest growing source of pollution to the James River and if not controlled threatens to undermine the progress that has been made towards restoring the health of the river.  This study demonstrates that manageable approaches are available to localities in meeting their responsibilities for protecting the James River and the rest of Virginia’s waters.  By gathering and reviewing available cost and pollutant removal data for a variety of river friendly practices, from structural parking lot retrofits to installing rain gardens, the study was able to determine which actions provide the greatest pollution reductions for the lowest investment.  This data was then applied in the City of Richmond to develop a number of scenarios for addressing their required stormwater pollution reductions. 

General Results

Key findings from the study revealed that the average annual costs per pound of pollution removed can range from 44 cents to over $70,000.  For the City of Richmond, the costs of meeting their stormwater requirements could be reduced by 70% from initial estimates by adapting a suite of the most cost effective practices applied to local conditions. Costs could be reduced by up to 80% if the City had additional flexibility to utilize some of the most cost effective practices that have not yet been officially “approved” by the EPA, and to be able to place practices on land beyond what the City owns itself.

Recommendations

  • The Chesapeake Bay Program needs to approve additional cost effective stormwater BMPs and prioritize research to quantify their benefits.
  • Localities should pursue incentives for private stormwater investments, such as public private partnerships or stormwater utility credits.
  • Localities should conduct local stormwater project inventories to identify feasible locations for the most cost effective practices in their jurisdiction.
  • Localities should consider stormwater management in all local capital improvement planning in order to achieve cost savings and pollution reductions through already planned public improvements.
  • The state and localities should establish sustainable funding mechanisms for stormwater.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Program should quantify additional community benefits achieved from BMPs to help localities understand their true value.

If you have questions, or would like more information about the study or other JRA advocacy issues please contact Adrienne Kotula, JRA Policy Specialist, at akotula@jrava.org or (804)788-8811.

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