National Academies Press: OpenBook

A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts (2017)

Chapter: Chapter 5 - Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24753.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24753.
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Page 59
Page 60
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24753.
×
Page 60
Page 61
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24753.
×
Page 61
Page 62
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24753.
×
Page 62
Page 63
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24753.
×
Page 63

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58 Extant Planning Planning documents that are developed by entities other than the DOT are considered to be extant plans. Such plans help determine priorities within the watershed and are often the basis for ecosystem services priority rankings. Environmental extant plans and studies may be developed by a single entity or a diverse group of entities within a watershed or other defined area. This includes, but is not limited to, state and local governments, stakeholder groups, and regulatory and resource protection agencies. They may have a wide-range of information, goals, objectives, and implementation mechanisms. Examples include land use plans, conservation plans, water resource studies, and watershed restoration plans. These docu- ments are often used by federal agencies, interstate organizations, and state and local governments to prioritize their watershed protection and restoration activities. The level of detail, timeframe for implementation, funding, and data sources vary widely by plan type and the organization that is producing or responsible for the plans. The implications for DOTs that are evaluating potential restoration sites are that the wide variety of organizations, timeframes for implementation focus and objectives, and datasets makes it extremely difficult to integrate and upkeep local information into the mitigation planning process. The capacity of the state DOT to have sufficient staff to coordinate and upkeep extant plan- ning information from all of these sources would be overwhelming. The value of extant planning information is more useful on a project-by-project basis where the DOT can request and evaluate the value of existing planning documents and studies within the project watershed. This infor- mation will help the DOTs create partnerships in the restoration activities and allow the DOTs to develop mitigation activities that can address local watershed stewardship and stakeholder priorities. This chapter provides guidance on how to assess the value of extant planning information for use in watershed-based mitigation planning efforts. Examples of how DOTs and other entities utilize extant planning information into mitigation options are also provided. The Role of Extant Planning in the Watershed-Based Mitigation Process A watershed plan is a strategic planning document that provides information and recom- mendations that are used to prioritize stormwater protection and restoration projects. It is based on a specific assemblage of datasets, criteria, metrics, goals, and objectives that are established by the study. The effort typically includes data collection, technical assessments, identification C H A P T E R 5 Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process To find the WBSMT, go to the TRB website and search for NCHRP Research Report 840.

Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process 59 of actions, participants, and resources that influence the plan development and implementa- tion (USEPA 2008). The plans may address and/or integrate information from other planning efforts such as land use plans, transportation plans, zoning plans, and conservation plans that help to inform decisions. Many of these plans have been developed by communities to prioritize discretionary activities that are important to the jurisdiction’s residents and stakeholders. This includes watershed management areas of stream stabilization, aquatic resources, swimming, boating, and water supply. Watershed plans have been increasingly used as part of the regulatory process to meet permit requirements for a range of federal and state stormwater management and water quality pro- grams. Section 404 of the CWA which focuses on Wetland Permitting and Section 303(d) which focuses on impaired waters and TMDLs often require the development of planning and assess- ment documents for determining water quality requirements and identifying actions or specific projects that will be used to achieve regulatory compliance. The NPDES program has also begun to place more emphasis on integrating issues such as water quality, water supply, TMDL compli- ance, hydromodification, and habitat protection via watershed plans and restoration plans in the permitting process. An example is the recently reissued NPDES MS4 permit for Prince George’s County, Maryland (Permit No. MD0068284). It was issued by the State of Maryland under authority from the USEPA. This permit requires the County to prepare local restoration plans. The plans must identify pollutant sources and appropriate restoration activities that can be used to reduce pollutant loads. This approach is being used to achieve approved TMDL waste load allocation requirements for priority pollutants that were identified in the Section 303(d) listing of the impaired water bodies. The allocations include nitrogen, phosphorus, sediments, and trash loads. Another example is the Los Angeles County, California area wide MS4 Permit No. CAS00400. This permit provides an option that the jurisdictions implement a water quality control plan and comply with WLAs that are identified in the 33 existing TMDLs within the subwatersheds by implementing a watershed scale stormwater management program. Information from extant planning documents, particularly those at the watershed scale, will become more relevant as the regulatory and resource agencies develop permits that address impairments at the larger watershed scale and they begin to consider the effects of the impair- ments on the biota, habitat, and other ecosystem services within a watershed. The recommended approach is to identify and locate relevant extant planning information, overlay the information with the anticipated project location, and then extract the information that is relevant to the mitigation decision process. Adequacy and Utility of Extant Planning There are three basic criteria for determining whether an existing watershed plan provides value for DOT regulatory or resource protection needs in locating watershed-based water qual- ity improvements: • Temporal relevance. The time frame or age of the plan is adequate to reflect current and proposed conditions. • Pollutants of concern. The pollutants of concern are relevant to the potential mitigation requirements. • Geospatial relevance. The scale and level of detail of the mapping effort and information collected is applicable to the scale of the mitigation project. Existing plans that don’t meet all three criteria can still provide valuable information. For example, a watershed plan that lacks a quantitative analysis of pollutant loads for the pollutant of concern or load reductions that could be achieved by implementing targeted management

60 A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts practices may provide valuable information on hydrology, topography, soils, climate, land uses, water quality problems, and management practices needed to address water quality problems (USEPA 2008). The following is a list of useful information extant plans may provide in addition to helping locate potential mitigation opportunities: • Baseline information of soils, land use/land cover, topography, public parcels, etc. • Identification of impairments/impacts and their causes. • Baseline ecosystem services assessment. • Establishment of or allowance for in lieu fee and/or existing water quality trading programs (as described in official regulatory policies, TMDLs, and/or stormwater permits). • Identification of major stakeholders and property owners. Identifying and Locating Extant Plans The process of identifying and obtaining extant planning information at the local level is an iterative process that can include online research and outreach to state and local agencies and stakeholders. Few online compilations of watershed or conservation plans currently exist, but some states and local jurisdictions are beginning to maintain such information. For example, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environment Services, Watershed Service Division provides water- shed report cards, watershed plans, and listings of individual watershed improvement projects (City of Portland 2015). Datasets that are valuable to the process may often be developed by con- servation or resource organizations at the national or local level. The Darby Creek Restoration Project (American Rivers 2015) is an example of an NGO that has conducted an assessment of watershed conditions, identified impairments, and implemented restoration activities. Project stakeholder meetings are an essential tool to help identify the key planned and ongoing types of restoration activities. Federal Level Sources There are several federal agencies that have relevant information from regulatory as well as nonregulatory programs that may be useful to making mitigation decisions. The EPA is a key source of information. As described in Chapter 6, the WBSMT utilizes information from the EPA EnviroAtlas database at the 12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC). EPA is also a contribu- tor to the recently released Watershed Resources Registry for the State of Maryland (http:// watershedresourcesregistry.com/detailsWr.html). Many other federal agencies also play water- shed or conservation planning roles. These include the Army Corps of Engineers, the USDA, and the Department of Interior (DOI). Several of these agencies support local programs. For example, the USDA Farm Service Agency programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) have information on where reserves exist for land reserve programs (www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/). The CRP is currently the largest public–private partnership for conservation and habitat protection in the United States. Its nearly $2 billion annual budget comprises almost one third of all federal fund- ing for land conservation and recreation (Ferris and Siikamaki 2009). The WRP is much smaller but focuses on water resources. DOTs may find the resources available from the CRP and WRP beneficial for linking off-site mitigation to existing conserved areas, which may be beneficial for habitat connectivity. The USDA NRCS is involved in watershed restoration efforts across the country and coop- erates with states and local agencies through its Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program. The NRCS also provides technical assistance and supports projects that improve water- shed protection, water quality, water supply and management, flood mitigation, soil conservation,

Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process 61 and erosion and nutrient reduction (NRCS 2015). NRCS staff may also be aware of watershed plans and interest groups in the areas they serve. The DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the National Park Service (NPS) are similarly involved in planning efforts. The BLM often develops reports that characterize ecosystem integrity (BLM 2014), while the USFWS under- takes recovery planning and supports compensatory mitigation under the Federal Endangered Species Act as off-setting measures under Section 7 and as part of Habitat Conservation Plans under Section 10. The NPS performs Natural Resource Condition Assessment for national park lands to highlight emerging or cross-cutting issues and park areas and resources in greatest need of management attention. The NPS has similar information reported in its Ecological Integrity Assessment Framework. This has provided land managers a much greater understanding of eco- logical interrelationships among physical resources and biological resources, and provided greater understanding of ecological process-based drivers for many of those interactions, thresholds for change, and management actions. State Agency Plans and Leads Two useful sources of information at the state regulatory and resource protection program level come from each state’s MS4 permit program and TMDL program. The state may manage the overall program as one unit or through subunits, such as the Water Management Districts in Florida. Many of the permits will include significant datasets and analysis of existing conditions as well as restoration proposals at a relevant scale. State environmental agencies may also have docu- ments or plans that identify priority conservation areas that support state wildlife action plans (SWAPs). These SWAPs often contain geospatial information on existing stream conservation, revegetation, and wetland restoration and creation areas that may offer stormwater mitigation opportunities for DOTs. A number of state DOTs, including Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, and Minnesota, have cooperated with their state DNR agencies to identify regionally significant ecological areas or areas that have high biodiversity and ecosystem service value that must be conserved. Section 303(e) of the CWA requires states to develop a Continuing Planning Process (CPP) to help coordinate water pollution control and ensure the states maintain progress toward protecting and preserving water quality. State data generally includes larger regional scale infor- mation but may also include plans that were developed at the local scale. The CPP may be able to point a DOT toward mitigation partners and opportunities. Regional drivers are often the impetus of state level plans. The Chesapeake Bay, for exam- ple, has water quality impairments that require all tributary states to develop implementation plans in areas that are within the watershed. This includes the states of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. These plans can be found at www.chesapeakebay.net/about/programs/watershed. A small number of states also keep track of watershed plans that are developed at the local level. For example, in North Carolina, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources maintains a map portal for all of the state developed watershed management plans (http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/wq/ ps/bpu/watershed-plan-map). Local Agencies Many local jurisdictions have a variety of planning documents that provide useful information: • Comprehensive plans address the growth and land use for the jurisdiction. These are typically on longer time scales (10–20 years). Larger issues of flood management and conservation are often addressed as well as general water quality concerns.

62 A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts • Local area plans are used to implement the comprehensive plan and to address changes in land use or adapt to current conditions. These are generally updated on shorter time frames and provide recommendations on subwatershed or localized scales. They are also more focused on localized development, environmental, and transportation issues. • Stormwater management and other environmental master plans include specific projects or project types to address drainage, hydraulic, flood management, or water quality improve- ment plans. • Local MS4 Permits and Capital Improvement Plans identify specific actions and projects that can potentially affect water quality outcomes in the watershed. These plans might be available through a local jurisdiction’s public works, natural resources, parks, or planning department web pages or by contacting agency representatives directly. They may also be found by searching the websites of state environmental agencies responsible for tracking these plans. In other cases, it may require direct consultation with municipal or drain- age district staff to identify specific areas that contain publicly owned parcels that are mutually beneficial mitigation locations. Exploring partnership opportunities may lead to the identifica- tion of lower cost mitigation opportunities on adjacent areas outside of the ROW as compared to on-site or ROW-only options. Non-Governmental Organizations There are many local, regional, and national NGOs that focus on land and easement purchases for conservation. These organizations often prioritize conservation and restoration investments to improve the health of watersheds and ecosystems. Examples include TNC, the Trust for Public Lands, the Conservation Fund, the Association of State Wetland Managers, the National Associa- tion of Conservation Districts, and Natural Hazards Mitigation Association, with products identi- fying wetlands, priority conservation areas, hazard areas, etc. These organizations often have local branches and partner organizations to identify priority watershed plans, conservation areas, or pro- vide links to local organizations that can connect DOTs with extant planning. Some of these organi- zations support watershed planning as well and would be resources for obtaining existing watershed planning information. For example, TNC assisted in statewide watershed planning in Tennessee and a memorandum of understanding was executed with the Tennessee Department of Environ- mental Conservation (TDEC), the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the West Tennessee River Basin Authority (TDEC 2011). TNC also conducted the overlay analysis of the five regional conservation plans that had been developed for the Willamette Basin (TNC 2012). Other state DOTs, such as Colorado, Montana, and California, have worked with TNC to identify priority mitigation areas, especially for wetlands. District/Regional Planning and Flood Management Regional planning and flood management staff often oversee drainage and mitigation plans on a regional basis. The Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) is an example of an agency that conducts studies and coordinates information and activities on flood management, water supply, and water quality in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Denver Urban Drainage and Flood Control District in Colorado also provides or coordinates regional planning. There are many such agencies across the United States. Other resources to help find regional drainage and flood management information include the following: • Internal DOT hydraulics staff who often have contacts at local flood planning agencies • The Association of State Floodplain Managers (http://www.floods.org) • State Floodplain Manager Chapters • State Floodplain Management Agencies

Using Local Planning Information to Support the Mitigation Decision Process 63 • National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies (http://www.nafsma.org/) • State Emergency Management Agencies (https://www.fema.gov/emergency-management- agencies) Metropolitan Planning Organizations Federal transportation legislation requires that a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) be designated for urbanized areas with populations of 50,000 people or more in order to carry out the metropolitan transportation planning process. Over 400 MPOs are currently listed in the U.S. DOT’s federal database (www.planning.dot.gov/mpos2.asp). MPO-driven plans may contain information related to future projected development of which DOTs should be aware. Utilizing Extant Plans with the WBSMT Data and information obtained from extant plans can be utilized in several ways when assess- ing alternative mitigation options. While the WBSMT provides HUC-12 information that can help a DOT make decisions on off-site mitigation alternatives, more localized data can assist with gathering planning information such as watershed characteristics, water quality targets and objec- tives, existing locations of management systems that may be available for retrofit or expansion, candidate locations for restoration or conservation, potential areas where installation of future runoff management systems is possible, and areas where impervious cover can be reduced. This locally supplied information may help to improve the costs and benefits that may be achieved which are specific to the local mitigation projects and can help to identify partnership opportu- nities. At the most basic level, mitigation options and priorities identified with extant plans can be used to overlay or compare those options identified by the WBSMT (or through any other approach), similar to TNC’s overlay analysis conducted for the Willamette Basin (TNC 2012). Doing so enables DOTs to evaluate the potential impacts of projects on resources of importance to local stakeholders. Intermediate and advanced users may also utilize input and data from extant plans to override WBSMT defaults. For example, the weight assigned to specific restora- tion objectives or load reduction adjustment factors can be altered based on stakeholder input provided in local watershed or restoration plans. More advanced users can also alter the datasets utilized by the WBSMT to link it to incorporate higher-resolution data than what is available on a national level. A detailed description of the WBSMT features and functionality is provided in Chapter 6.

Next: Chapter 6 - Linking Project Impacts to Mitigation Alternatives in the WBSMT »
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TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Report 840: A Watershed Approach to Mitigating Stormwater Impacts provides a practical decision-making framework that will enable state departments of transportation (DOTs) to identify and implement offsite cost-effective and environmentally beneficial water quality solutions for stormwater impacts when onsite treatment and/or mitigation is not possible within the right-of-way.

The report is accompanied by the Watershed-Based Stormwater Mitigation Toolbox, a Microsoft Excel-based program to facilitate the characterization of the project watershed and the identification of mitigation options at the planning level.

Disclaimer - This tool is offered as is, without warranty or promise of support of any kind either expressed or implied. Under no circumstance will the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine or the Transportation Research Board (collectively "TRB") be liable for any loss or damage caused by the installation or operation of this product. TRB makes no representation or warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, in fact or in law, including without limitation, the warranty of merchantability or the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, and shall not in any case be liable for any consequential or special damages.

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