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Issue Brief: EPA’s Proposed National Rulemaking to Strengthen the Stormwater Program

The Issue
ASLA supports efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish and encourage Low Impact Development (LID) practices that incorporate green infrastructure projects that will address stormwater management and other water quality issues.

ASLA is working to provide EPA with case studies and information on landscape architecture projects that successfully and sustainably manage stormwater and preserve and protect the country’s water supply. ASLA encourages all members working on stormwater management projects to submit case studies and provide detailed information about these projects.

Background & Analysis
The Environmental Protection Agency has initiated a national rulemaking to establish a comprehensive program to reduce stormwater discharges from new development and redevelopment and make other improvements to strengthen its stormwater program.  Specifically, the rulemaking seeks to establish requirements to control stormwater discharges from new development and redevelopment; develop a single set of consistent stormwater requirements for all Municipal Separate Sanitary Sewer Systems (MS4s); require MS4s to address stormwater discharges in areas of existing development through retrofitting the sewer system or drainage area with improved stormwater control measures; and explore specific stormwater provisions to protect sensitive areas.

In 2006, EPA requested the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a review of its stormwater program.  In October 2008, NRC released its report Urban Stormwater Management in the United States (The National Academies Press, 2009) finding, among other things, that “the rapid conversion of land to urban and suburban areas has profoundly altered how water flows during and following storm events, putting higher volumes of water and more pollutants into the nation’s rivers, lakes, and estuaries. These changes have degraded water quality and habitat in virtually every urban stream system.”  The report recommends a number of actions, including conserving natural areas, reducing hard surface cover (e.g., roads, parking lots, impervious surfaces), and retrofitting urban areas with features that hold and treat stormwater. 

Because of the strong need to reduce impervious surfaces in many communities, EPA announced that during this rulemaking process, it will examine, analyze and evaluate sustainable green infrastructure design techniques that mimic natural water processes that infiltrate and recharge, evapotranspire, and/or harvest and reuse precipitation. 

Currently, landscape architects are successfully working with many communities and municipalities across the nation to employ these types of green infrastructure design techniques that address stormwater management and other water quality issues.  The American Society of Landscape Architects urges EPA to consider and adopt a rule that promotes these highly-effective and cost-efficient approaches to improve the quality of our nation’s water supply.

Current Status
EPA held a number of listening sessions across the country to hear views, ideas and input from various stakeholders.  EPA has also issued Information Collection Requests and other data collection questionnaires to gather information and assess what revisions are needed to its stormwater requirements.  

After receiving, reviewing and analyzing all pertinent data, EPA intends to issue a draft rule in early 2014 and seeks to issue a final stormwater rule some time in 2015.

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ASLA Government Affairs
governmentaffairs@asla.org 

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