This series showcases examples of local governments forging creative solutions to complex environmental problems. Whether the goal is greening the urban landscape or combatting climate risk, these stories exemplify the ways in which municipal leaders can defy long-held assumptions, build relationships with nontraditional partners, and push the envelope to achieve better results for their communities.

Regional Collaboration: Building Partnerships for Clean Water in York County

Regional collaboration efforts to develop York County’s Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan are discussed by Felicia Dell, Director of the York County Planning Commission.

By: Jenny Beard

Five hundred eighty-two communities in the Bay watershed are working to meet NPDES permit standards for stormwater discharges from their municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). MS4s that discharge to impaired surface waters or directly to the Chesapeake Bay are required to develop Pollutant Reduction or TMDL Plans. Meeting regulatory requirements while also addressing important local drivers, such as increased flooding is a daunting order for any municipality, regardless of size. However, one innovative county in Pennsylvania has proven that there is strength in numbers.

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Felicia Dell
AICP Director York County Planning Commission
September 26, 2018

Planning for Success: How Collaboration & Community Engagement Yield High-Value Projects in Fairfax County

Fairfax County’s stormwater planning and management program is discussed by Charles Smith, Branch Chief, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

By: Medessa Burian

Located in the heart of the Washington DC Metropolitan region, Fairfax County, Virginia is predominantly suburban – with urban pockets that house some of the nation’s most prestigious intelligence agencies and rural areas with thousands of acres of protected parkland and biking trails. As one of the area’s most populous jurisdictions, the county is heavily developed. Impervious surfaces such as roads, parking lots, and roofs prevent rainwater and melting snow from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, runoff moves across these hard surfaces carrying trash, pet waste, pesticides, lawn chemicals, and other harmful pollutants to local streams and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay....read more

Charles Smith
September 26, 2018

Developers as Allies: DC’s Stormwater Retention Credit Trading Program

Faced with the enormous cost of complying with stormwater mandates and cleaning up local waters, DC launched the Stormwater Retention Credit (SRC) trading program. This pioneering system allows redevelopment projects to meet regulatory requirements by buying credits from other properties that voluntarily retrofit impervious surfaces with green infrastructure. Brian Van Wye from the DC Department of Energy & Environment explains how SRC makes private development part of the stormwater solution and enables far greater results than what government could achieve alone. He describes how the program enabled DC to pass robust stormwater regulations, how it leverages private capital, and why flexibility is key to its success....read more

Inclusive Planning: Sharing Power to Build Resilience in Baltimore

Baltimore is pioneering a decision-making approach that seeks to proactively engage those most affected by public policies. This equity-driven model has been a hallmark of the city's recent work to become more climate resilient. Kristin Baja, former Climate and Resilience Planner for Baltimore Office of Sustainability, describes the city's vulnerability to climate impacts and discusses the importance of power sharing, public accountability, and continuous engagement. Baltimore’s climate action planning process is a model for other jurisdictions seeking to partner in a meaningful way with private citizens to advance shared priorities.

Kristin Baja
Climate Resilience Officer, Urban Sustainability Directors Network (formerly Climate Resilience Planner, Baltimore Office of Sustainability)
January 16, 2018