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Establishing a Water Resource Issue Management Program 33 cially if multiple project sites are under consideration and the development area is large. As a result, it is important to seek consultation on defining how the risk of not collecting sufficient water resource data will be assessed. Such an analysis is challenging because it involves a com- parison of real, verifiable, and short-term costs (the cost to complete the field assessments and establish the inventory) to potential costs that may be incurred should unanticipated water resource issues become problematic on a project. Allocating resources for early planning does run the risk of spending valuable budget on items that may have no clearly defined payback; however, it is entirely possible that paybacks greater than an order of magnitude can be achieved through costs saved by not having to manage issues that develop later in the project. One means of balancing cost and risk for a Water Resource Inventory is to identify the water resource locations that are most crucial to the development project moving forward and then perform a gap analysis comparing the quality of the existing information with the quality of data ultimately needed for permitting and design. Crucial water resource locations could be defined as · Sites where there is a high likelihood that the project will be constructed and · Sites where water resource issue management may be especially challenging. Focusing on crucial water resource locations for data collection can reduce the outlay of costs. Assessment of the most crucial areas may require input from experts of water resource and experts in associated regulations. The experts should identify the extent and characteristics of data that are acceptable to regulators during the permitting process. An airport may find that establishing methods for track- ing development project life-cycle costs on projects, specific to cost impacts from water resource issue management, Key Notes strengthens the ability to demonstrate the benefit of early planning for water resource issues on future projects. Such The risk to project function, cost, and schedule a tracking system can certainly be a challenge to implement, incurred late in projects by inadequately funding but may be beneficial for airports with many planned devel- early assessment of water resource issues should opment projects. be a consideration in budgetary planning. It is important that the Water Resource Inventory be Evaluation of risk-based costs is a project-by- updated whenever additional site-specific information has project consideration. been obtained on projects. Over time, this will build the extent and quality of the inventory to the benefit of future projects. It is recommended that water resource inventories be developed prior to the Conceptual Plan- ning and Detailed Planning Phases. Most often, this data is not collected until the NEPA process is initiated. The Handbook recommends that an inventory be established before project plan- ning and, thus, before the NEPA process. Creation of the inventory in this fashion will result in cost savings as the NEPA process is initiated because that process can rely on the same data, with little updating. 2.2.3 Water Resource Impact Key Notes and Issue Checklist Water resources are not typically a problem until An additional step in improving the effectiveness of the they are potentially impacted by a project. process is achieving an increased awareness of the linkages Early understanding of the possible impacts of between development projects and water resource impacts. project alternatives on water resources should be Greater awareness of these linkages by those responsible for sought and documented. planning should facilitate improved decision making when initiating the project planning process. Creating a checklist
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34 A Handbook for Addressing Water Resource Issues Affecting Airport Development Planning of possible water resource impacts and issues associated with potential projects can provide good baseline information for initial planning efforts. Despite seemingly significant differences in scope, many development projects can have sim- ilar effects on water resources. This is because when managing water resource issues, the features and characteristics of a development project and its post-construction operations are typically more important than the type of project. For example, a new runway development project may have vastly different operational objectives, extent, cost, and regulatory burden than a parking lot development project. From a water resource issue perspective, however, both projects may require a large amount of new impervious surface to be constructed on previously undeveloped land. Thus, both projects may have similar water resource impacts and water resource issues to manage, such as filling of wetlands, increases in storm water quantities, and impacts to water quality. Understanding the critical features of a project and its associated post-construction operations are therefore important steps in managing the water resource issues. The project characteristics affecting water resources can be considered from two perspectives: 1. Issues associated with siting and construction, which are short-term or one-time water resource issues, and 2. Issues associated with ongoing activities, which are continuous or repeated long-term water resource issues from operations after construction. An example of water resource issues related to siting and construction is the clearing of natu- ral vegetation and excavation of natural soils, replacement of them with engineered fill and sub- grades, paved surfaces, and structures. These actions can physically impact water resources not only by reducing the extent of the water resource, but also through disruption of natural processes, reduction in function or quality of the water resource, and destruction of habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species. Siting and construction issues can be minimized by thoroughly evaluating project alternatives including relocating the project to an area where no water resources will be impacted. Depending on the project type, the range of alternatives will vary. For example, alter- natives for new or relocated runways would be more limited compared with a parking lot because of aeronautical design standards (i.e., orientation to the wind) that often limit the location of aeronautical facilities. An example of a water resource issue related to ongoing activities after construction is the alteration of natural storm water runoff drainage patterns and characteristics caused by changes to the surface features. Increased impervious area, vegetation removal, steeper slopes or regrad- ing, and flow diversion have the potential to increase runoff flows, decrease infiltration, increase erosion and sedimentation, increase flooding, and degrade water quality. Water quality may also be impacted from runoff associated with construction activities and long-term airport opera- tions. The disruption of natural drainage patterns through land use and drainage system design can introduce avenues for water resource contamination and other impacts that did not previ- ously exist under pre-development conditions, as well as destabilize soils and fragile land fea- tures that may have previously been at equilibrium with natural processes. It is recommended that prior to the initiation of planning activities, airport operators create a checklist that links projects to project characteristics, to effects on water resources, and, finally, to water resource issues that need to be managed. Worksheet 2 in Appendix A provides an exam- ple of a checklist to identify potential impacts on the basis of project siting and construction impacts and ongoing operations impacts. Tables 2 and 3 can be used for guidance in completing the checklist. The checklist results can be used to help assess the water resource issues for which core regulatory requirements should be derived and to provide an initial assessment of the water resource issues that may be problematic.