Runoff Rundown
Winter 2011
Issue #41
In This Issue
*Runoff Ramblings
*Addressing Technical Challenges of Stormwater Management Regulations for Bay States
*Bay-wide Partnership Seeks to Address Knowledge Gaps with Targeted Training
*Stormwater Retrofits to Help the Rivanna River
*Creating Blue Alleys and Neighborhoods in Baltimore City
*Watershed Science Bulletin Call for Articles
*Chesapeake Bay News
*Trainings and Conferences
*Cool Links
Published by:
CWP for email


The Winter 2011 issue of Runoff Rundown is here!

This issue brings news, commentary and updates on projects related to the Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load (TMDL), in addition to the usual suite of upcoming trainings and watershed and stormwater management resources. We thought it was timely to focus on the Bay given EPA's recent issuance of a final TMDL watershed plan for the Bay, and the Center for Watershed Protection's numerous ongoing projects in the Bay watershed that support state and local TMDL goals. The Bay TMDL is the largest one ever developed by EPA, encompassing a 64,000 square mile watershed, and requires adoption of extensive measures to meet deadlines for progress and ensure accountability. The challenges and opportunities associated with meeting the Bay TMDL are by no means unique to the Bay region, and the proposed solutions may be of interest to jurisdictions across the nation who are tasked with meeting their local water quality goals.


Click here to view this newsletter on the web.

Bill vs. Bill:
Runoff Ramblings on TMDLs and the Chesapeake Bay


This issue of Runoff Rundown features two guest Ramblers: the Center's own Bill Stack, and Bill Matuszeski (affectionately known as BMat), former Director of the Chesapeake Bay Program.  Each has some strong opinions and ideas about the challenges and possible solutions to the problems in the Bay. We asked BMat to air his concerns and Bill to provide a response from his perspective as long-time Surface Water Programs manager for Baltimore City. Thanks to both Bills for their contributions and we hope their ideas stimulate more thoughts, discussion and feedback about TMDLs in the Chesapeake Bay. What are your thoughts?  Please email us at and let us know what you think.


Figure 1. Bill Matuszeski, Former Director of the Chesapeake Bay Program, and Bill Stack, Deputy Director of Programs at the Center for Watershed Protection

BMat                       Bill Stack 


BMat on TMDLs and the Chesapeake Bay

Bill Stack on TMDLs and the Chesapeake Bay

BMatBMat on TMDLs and the Chesapeake Bay:

Here's what I don't understand:  Why did the federal EPA flex its muscles and assert all its authority over the Chesapeake Bay states to order load reductions to meet the Chesapeake Bay's water quality standards, and then fail to set out a workable plan to achieve those reductions?  If you are going to fracture twenty-five years of federal-state cooperative efforts, you ought to have a credible way of getting the job done.


EPA is basing its takeover on the provisions of the Clean Water Act that require the establishment of a total maximum daily load (TMDL) allocation of loads to sources where standards are not being met.  Buried in the bowels of the Act, this language was ignored for years, in part because no one really knew how it would work where, as in the Bay, much of the loading is from unregulated non-point sources.  At the end of the 90s, EPA lost a number of lawsuits and was forced to resurrect and deal with the TMDL provisions.  After a delay of a decade to see how much could be achieved in the Bay without the TMDL, the time for dealing with it is upon us.


The problem is that EPA still has only the vaguest idea how to deal with sources not covered by its permit programs.  It has developed a concept that the states must show "reasonable assurances" that these other sources will be controlled, but there is no serious answer to the "or else" question.


All this comes home clearly when you look at the nutrient and sediment sources of pollution which are central to the Chesapeake clean-up.  EPA and the states permit sewage treatment plants, but there is not a lot more in load reductions to be squeezed out of them.  They also permit large concentrated animal feeding operations, mostly in the West, but a few dozen in the Chesapeake watershed.  And they issue stormwater permits in urban areas, although with a few very recent exceptions, these have been weak in setting meaningful and measurable load reductions and permit limits.  Finally, there are regulations under the Clean Air Act to control nitrogen from power plants and vehicles which settles over the region; these appear in interminable litigation.


The bottom line is that EPA estimates that only 49% of nitrogen loadings, 35% of phosphorous loadings and 4% of sediment are currently subject to any kind of regulation under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.  While there are efforts underway to increase the number of animal feeding operations under permit, that will not amount to major reductions.  Meanwhile, EPA is going to have to rely on "reasonable assurances" for 51% of nitrogen, 65% of phosphorous, and a whopping 96% of sediment.  This is not credible; everyone knows the states have nowhere near the programs in place to provide that assurance.


Most of the unregulated pollution is from agriculture, much of it from the use of animal manure and commercial fertilizer on eight million acres of croplands in the watershed.   There are practices to reduce and control the application and runoff from these nutrient and sediment sources, but they cost money.  The states have essentially two choices for coming up with that money; they can use tax revenue, or they can regulate the farmers and make them pay the cost.  Neither of these is a viable option in the current climate against increasing regulation or taxes, so it is unclear how EPA can possibly make a legitimate finding of "reasonable assurance" that these agricultural sources will be controlled any time soon.  So how this gets resolved consistent with the law is a mystery.


We are not talking about a small amount of money.  Using back-of-the-envelope estimates, the overall cost of the Bay clean-up has been estimated at $19 billion.  About half of the job is agriculture-based, but, setting aside the purported expansion of coverage of feeding operations, most crop-based improvements are very cost-effective measures, so they might be achieved at a cost of, say, $3 billion.  Assuming 20,000 farms in the watershed, the average cost per farm for the needed measures would still be $150,000 spread over 15 years with a mix of one-time and annually renewable measures, or about $10,000-12,000 per year, still a lot of money for the average farmer.   Yet can we really expect state legislatures to come up with hundreds of millions per year from new or expanded sources of revenue?  Not likely in the current economic and political mood in the land.


There is an "out of the box" answer to this dilemma, but it would require some creativity from EPA and some cooperation from the states, neither of which seems in generous supply.  If EPA were to allocate the full load reduction as it could and should under the original intent of the TMDL provisions, it would have an interesting effect.  Sewage treatment plants cannot be reasonably expected to do a lot more, and feeding operations are hard hit already; air sources will probably be in litigation for eternity.  But stormwater permits provide an opportunity both as a source of reductions that could do more and as a source of funding.  If EPA were to take the full reduction quota from what it claims are sources not subject to regulation and place it on its stormwater permittees (primarily metropolitan counties), the latter would find that the reductions needed would be extremely costly and disruptive (which is why they are not now being required to make them).  But purchasing the same load reductions from farmers installing approved management practices would be much cheaper and would have no adverse local impacts.  To do so would require EPA and the states to set up a reliable and workable trading program between the stormwater entities and cooperating farmers.


The case is even more convincing if you consider the broad base of ratepayers who would contribute to paying the cost.  Of the 17 million people in the watershed, about 9 million live in counties subject to the urban stormwater permits.  Spreading the $3 billion cost estimate above among them would result in a cost of $333 per person over 15 years, or $22 per year, or $1.80 a month.  The $3.60 this would add to my wife's and my monthly water and sewer bill here in DC is less than I already pay for my impermeable surface and stormwater fees.  In a word, it is achievable, legal, cost-effective and affordable.


And it gives EPA the way out of the corner it never should have gotten itself into.  Next time, EPA, figure out how this is going to work before you take charge.

BStackBill Stack on TMDLs and the Chesapeake Bay

I have always enjoyed reading BMat's articles in the Bay Journal and, although that was several years ago, I am glad to see he hasn't lost his touch for stimulating ideas. The thought of balancing the Bay's nutrient and sediment TMDLs on the back of the urban community makes a lot of sense. However, I have an even better solution. Let's assign the entire agricultural load reduction to permitted military installations. The Pentagon would only have to cut their TP (the other TP not total phosphorus) budget by half to pay for the entire Bay clean-up. Of course I am just kidding and no offense to my friends in the military.  Let's back up a bit. I agree with BMat's concern that the largest share of the nutrient and sediment load reduction is from agriculture, which is largely unregulated under the CWA. I also agree that in general, agricultural BMPs are much more cost effective than urban BMPs in reducing nutrients. That is as much as I will agree to. Our nutrient-centric approach to addressing Chesapeake Bay ignores the other major issue out there - our sick watersheds. The sickness is called impervious-itus which has left the quality of our streams and neighborhoods impaired.


No urban area is untouched by this disease so let us consider transferring the urban stormwater load not currently subject to NPDES permits from the load allocation to the waste load allocation. Think of it as universal health care for sick watersheds. This would mean the MS4 communities will have to establish a sustainable funding source. This should have happened 18 years ago, but the states and EPA turned a blind eye towards this MS4 requirement and have allowed MS4 permittees to grossly underfund their programs. To meet the Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) goals, the MS4s will have to figure out how to at least triple their annual expenditure of funds for stormwater.


The first step in making this happen is to have the agricultural community donate fortified Wheaties to state and EPA regulators to give them the fortitude to enforce MS4 permits. This will be a tough pill for politicians and taxpayers to swallow, especially in these tough economic times. This is where we need a few economists, planners, architects and stormwater managers (a few psychiatrists might also help) to get together and start putting down on paper the true cost and value of stormwater management.


Let's see if we can turn this $10 billion a year influx of money into a jobs program that revitalizes our urban core. Let's make sure this money stays in our metropolitan areas, contributing to the national sustainability and green cities movement which is making cities such as Portland, Milwaukee and Philadelphia into more livable communities. In Baltimore City, my hometown where I use to manage the Surface Water Programs for a few decades (yes, I am pretty crusty too), there is a grass roots movement to green neighborhoods by removing impervious cover, installing rain gardens and even restoring stream systems.  While these practices are an extremely expensive way to reduce nutrients compared to cover crops, they have an added benefit of improving the way the neighborhoods look and feel and have the potential to fuel a green jobs explosion.


So is there any room for trading? At the risk of offending my environmental friends that are opposed to trading in principal, the answer is yes, but not in the way that BMat is suggesting and not at the expense of local watershed goals.  It is unlikely that retrofitting and greening our metropolitan areas will meet the targeted load reductions of the Bay TMDL. The Center has found that the retrofit potential of urban areas is close to 12 percent because of site and other constraints. Trading will likely have to be an option in some form. However, let's begin with the trading that can exist through the development-redevelopment process.


The potential nutrient load reduction that can result through redevelopment and infill under most stormwater regulations is potentially enormous. Most of the built environment in the Bay watershed predates effective stormwater management regulations. Suppose 30 percent of a metropolitan area within the Bay watershed is redeveloped over the next 20 years[1]  and these areas are required to control 100 percent of the first 1.0 inches of runoff from impervious surfaces [2] which is assumed to be 50 percent of the site. This equates to one fourth of the Maryland WIP goal of controlling 30 percent of the urban impervious cover that can potentially be bought and paid for by the development community.  The catch is the difficulty in providing this level of control especially using LID type practices and on sites with higher levels of impervious cover (65% or more)  This is where trading and offsets come into play.


Typical trading programs require a baseline level of implementation which could be based on criteria to assure consistency with local sustainability or green infrastructure goals. Any stormwater requirement above this amount could conceivably be traded. Also, add to this a trading ratio of 2:1, which is fairly typical and accounts for uncertainty in pollution removal efficiency (or "out of watershed" trading). The credits for trading can be generated by developers that have excess stormwater capacity on their sites or for BMPs installed on public rights of way, public parks or vacant lands[3] by municipalities. What makes this attractive is that the cost of constructing BMPs in these areas can be ½ to 1/3 as much as practices applied to redevelopment sites. This can tremendously reduce the net cost for meeting nutrient reduction targets. Again, it is critical that the immediate downstream area would not be negatively affected by any trade and that trades/offsets are done in the same watershed (1-10 square miles).


So I know I didn't address the agricultural issue. There are many agricultural watersheds that are urbanizing and trading between agricultural and urban BMPs have a place so long as local baseline requirements are met and the trading is done at an appropriate watershed scale. To go beyond that and transfer the agricultural load to the urban sector as BMat suggested would pull the rug out from underneath EPA and the states in this latest effort to restore the Bay. The WIPs are not perfect, but they are infinitely better than the previous plans to restore the Bay (e.g., Tributary Strategies). I suggest that we wait until the first two year milestone (established in the WIPs) is here to see if the agricultural strategy is the "same old same old." If not, then maybe we should reconsider the military option.


[1] A 2004 study by the Brookings Institute estimated 42 percent of the urban land will be redeveloped but this was before the economic down-turn.

[2] Based on Maryland SWM requirements.

[3] In one 930 acre watershed in Baltimore City studied, there were over  2000 vacant lots.

Addressing Technical Challenges of Stormwater Management Regulations for Bay States    

There are many challenges ahead for those charged with cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. The most notable challenge for the urban sector is the development of regulatory strategies, criteria, and initiatives that will drive the implementation of stormwater management practices to achieve the water quality goals of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The past few years have shown that the administrative process of adopting regulatory criteria requires a great deal of technical documentation to ensure that the resulting actions will in fact be successful in meeting the stated goals. Given the complexities of water quality, especially as related to nonpoint stormwater runoff, the technical challenges can sometimes be overwhelming.  The Center for Watershed Protection has been assisting the Bay-states and local jurisdictions to address these technical challenges, as described below.


BMP Performance: The biggest challenge, which appears to have been met by most Chesapeake Bay States, is the acceptance of a common "currency" for measuring the pollutant removal capabilities of stormwater practices. The processing and removal of nutrients by stormwater best management practices (BMPs) are very complex and variable. One way to reduce the variability is to reduce the volume of stormwater (and the nutrient reduction will follow).  The Center developed the Runoff Reduction Method (RRM) and accompanying Compliance Spreadsheet, as well as the Design Specifications for the RRM Practices for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Center is developing similar tools for West Virginia and the District of Columbia.


Retrofits: The strategies for meeting the goals of the Bay TMDL require that the volume of runoff and/or pollutant load from existing developed areas be reduced. The Center has tailored the Retrofit Reconnaissance Investigation form and procedures to help local governments (e.g., Arlington Co, VA) evaluate the feasibility and then inventory and rank potential retrofit sites.


Credit Offsets: All stakeholders agree that there is a cost-benefit formula that should determine when it's time to look elsewhere for reductions. Whether for new development, redevelopment, or a specific watershed based initiative, compliance on "tight" or challenged sites is sometimes not feasible or effective, and the selection of an alternative may likely provide a much greater reduction for the same amount of money. The Center developed a white paper titled: Nutrient Trading and Offsite Compliance in Virginia and the Bay Watershed to assist Virginia in developing a nutrient offset program. The Center also developed a unit price framework for the state of Delaware to assess the cost of purchasing credits in the form of cubic feet of runoff.


Documentation: The goals of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL will require multiple structural and non-structural practices and strategies. An important feature of documenting compliance is translating the benefit of all the disparate strategies in a unified format. The Center has developed the Watershed Treatment Model (WTM) that can capture and compute the benefits of a wide variety of programs including lawn fertilizer restrictions, agricultural practices, land use conversions, and stormwater BMPs.


The Center will continue to collaborate with our partners to develop practical tools and techniques to implement the most effective stormwater and watershed management practices in the Chesapeake Bay and beyond.  For more information on the specific efforts described here, contact Dave Hirschman at; Greg Hoffmann at or Joe Battiata at

Bay-wide Partnership Seeks to Address Knowledge Gaps with Targeted Training 

In 2010, the Chesapeake Stormwater Network (CSN) and the Center launched the Chesapeake Bay Stormwater Training Partnership (the Partnership) with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Partnership seeks to fill the gap in achieving Bay-wide nutrient reduction by providing stormwater design professionals and local government plan reviewers with tools to expedite the design and construction of more effective runoff reduction and environmental site design practices at thousands of development projects in Bay states over the coming years. The Partnership training programs - which include webcasts, web-based training modules, one-day design workshops and "master" stormwater design seminars, are designed to help stormwater design professionals understand new state stormwater regulations in DC, MD, VA and WV and how to incorporate innovative new practices into their development plans.


As part of the launch of the Partnership, an on-line survey of more than 160 stormwater design professionals was conducted to establish a baseline of current designer knowledge and behavior. The results of this survey helped identify gaps in knowledge and shape the training the Partnership provides.  


Survey results indicate that many design professionals have a way to go with regards to nutrient IQ. Collectively, respondents gave the correct response to five multiple choice questions focused on nutrients 26% of the time (although random guessing would have scored 20%). At the same time, 75% reported they had a good to excellent knowledge about nutrients! This finding has influenced the Partnership to re-tool the training approach to put more emphasize on nutrients, specifically how to boost nutrient removal in design.


Another key finding is that most designers have not yet designed projects using the innovative practices at the heart of LID. For example, the bullets below indicate that percentage of responding Bay stormwater engineers that have never designed a project with the indicated practice.


·        Green Roof:                     67%

·        Amended Soils:              65%

·        Rainwater Harvesting:   50%

·        Disconnection:               50%

·        Filter Strip:                      47%

·        Dry Swale:                      46%

·        Permeable Pavement: 45%


Another finding is that designers are still disproportionately designing or approving practices with low nutrient reduction performance. The pie charts below show the number and drainage area served of low, medium and high performing practices that they had installed in the last year. Clearly, strong room for improvement is indicated.

CBSTP Graphic 

This finding has led the Partnership to put more emphasis on these practices, including providing peer examples where they have been successfully used.  We will continue to use survey results and feedback from individual trainings to refine our approach, with the ultimate goal of greatly increasing implementation of practices that contribute to significant nutrient reductions to the Bay. 


To join the Partnership (which is free!), go to the Enrollment page at and fill in your contact and other information. You will then be asked to complete a short Stormwater Survey. As you complete individual training events you will be asked to continue to provide input by way of shorter surveys so that we may continue to improve the delivery and content of the training. The Partnership provides direct access to Web-Based Training Modules, as well as free and reduced cost webcasts and one- and two-day training workshops.

Stormwater Retrofits to Help the Rivanna River


If you travel to the heart of Virginia's Piedmont, you just might find yourself in the Rivanna River watershed, one of the northernmost basins draining to the James River, which empties into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.  In your travels across this 760 square mile river basin - a varied landscape that includes pastures, forest plots, subdivisions, shopping malls, the city of Charlottesville, and a scattering of small towns -- you may even come across a stormwater retrofit or two, as area localities have begun a tradition of seeking out and building retrofits.


The Rivanna River Basin Commission (RRBC), a governmental entity that promotes stewardship of the river and is comprised of elected officials from the City and each of the three counties in the watershed, has set its eyes on reversing some of the impacts of impervious cover on water quality in the basin.  In 2008, RRBC's Technical Advisory Committee determined that altered hydrology resulting in excess sedimentation is the chief problem for the Rivanna.  In response, with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the RRBC is helping each locality in the watershed identify or install stormwater management retrofits to treat and reduce runoff from roofs, parking lots, and turf areas on public properties.  As part of this initiative, CWP staff worked with RRBC and county staff, elected officials, and the local watershed group to use our Retrofit Reconnaissance Inventory method to identify and rank opportunities for retrofits at schools, libraries, and administrative building sites in two of the more rural counties.  For these local governments, having a prioritized list of potential retrofit sites and design concepts will make it easier for them to garner and devote funding for construction of stormwater retrofits in the future.


This focus on retrofits represents not only a response to the past, but also a look into the future of stormwater management in Virginia.  Leslie Middleton, Executive Director for the RRBC, explains, "Because of the anticipated changes to the stormwater regulations in Virginia and the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, stormwater retrofits, especially on public lands, are going to be an important way to manage nutrients and sediment, and especially excessive flow, from entering our watershed streams. RRBC wanted to provide our member governments with information that would help them move forward with upgrading existing and oftentimes, outdated, stormwater management features."  The Commission will continue to put energy into promoting better stormwater management of the watershed's developed surfaces.  So, if you visit the Rivanna basin in the next couple of years, keep your eyes open for some new bioretention cells or vegetated swales - they are becoming a more common and integral part of this built landscape.


For more information about this project, contact Laurel Woodworth at

Creating Blue Alleys and Neighborhoods in Baltimore City


The Center is working with The Baltimore Water Alliance, Baltimore City, and Biohabitats, Inc. to green Baltimore's densely developed neighborhoods.  The project, which was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will ultimately involve the construction of up to four permeable alleys and four street bioretention areas in Baltimore's Butchers Hill and Patterson Park Neighborhoods.  The project builds on the goals and concepts presented in existing watershed and neighborhood plans.


In the chill of late December, the Center hit the streets with the project partners and neighborhood volunteers to identify feasible project locations.  A list of potential sites has been developed, and the Center will be working with the neighborhoods and City to select the final sites over the next few weeks.  Project design will be underway this spring, and project construction is expected to begin in the Spring/Summer of 2012.


The main objective of this project is to have these neighborhood projects serve as a model to be replicated throughout additional neighborhoods and community centers in the City. The implemented projects will be monitored for water quantity reductions and evaluated for water quality benefit and overall cost effectiveness. The monitoring results will be used to better assist the City in crediting the practices towards meeting NPDES permit requirements.  Further, a project goal is to build local capacity for managing and/or constructing these types of stormwater retrofit projects and for educating the public about stormwater and trash reduction in order to gain public acceptance and support for implementation of these practices on a broader scale.


For more information about this project, contact Kelly Collins at


  Blue Alleys2

Watershed Science Bulletin Call for Articles

The Association of Watershed and Stormwater Professionals (AWSPs) is currently soliciting short (5,000 words or less) articles for the Fall 2011 issue of the Bulletin. This issue features the next generation of research on the influence of watershed land cover (e.g., impervious surfaces, forest, wetlands, grasslands, cropland, pasture, managed turf) on the condition of downstream water resources. Research papers, policy analysis and discussion papers are requested that help to improve our understanding of the land cover / water resource connection that is so critical to managing impacts. Preference will be given to papers summarizing new research and ideas and having national or regional implications (as opposed to a local study of land cover changes over time). Deadline for Submissions is April 13, 2011. 


Full Solicitation Document

Visit our website for more information. 

Chesapeake Bay News

2010 State of the Bay

CBF released the 2010 State of the Bay Report-and there is good news and bad. The Chesapeake Bay is showing encouraging signs of rebounding but is still in critical condition as a result of pollution.The numeric index of the Bay's health jumped three points from 2008 to 2010, with eight of 13 indicators rising. The indicator for the health of the blue crab population spiked 15 points, as the Bay's population increased significantly last year. Also, underwater grasses showed steady progress for the fourth year in a row. But the overall health index of the Bay is 31 out of 100, which means it is still a system dangerously out of balance. Click here to read the State of the Bay Report.


Preserving Land Key to Restoring Chesapeake Bay, According to New Report

The Chesapeake Bay's land-to-water ratio of 14:1 is the largest of any coastal water body in the world. This means that what we do on the land has a significant effect on the health of the Bay. Chesapeake Bay Program partners have surpassed their original Chesapeake 2000 goal of permanently preserving 20 percent of the watershed's land. New goals have been set to conserve two million acres of land and create 300 public access points. Virginia has set a separate goal to protect 400,000 acres of land by 2014. To achieve these new goals, the government and private sector need to maintain the pace of conservation set during the past decade, when Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia protected 1.24 million acres of land, according to the report. The report states that there is a large and untapped potential for conserved lands to contribute to pollution limits established under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. For example, if two million acres are conserved in targeted areas and conservation practices are established on those acres, several million fewer pounds of nitrogen could reach the Bay each year. To achieve the greatest benefit for the Bay's health, the report recommends that land conservation efforts follow six main principles:

  • Focus on "working lands": farms and forests
  • Maximize water quality benefits
  • Enhance public access
  • Strengthen state, local and non-profit land conservation programs
  • Expand federal land conservation investments
  • Support the emerging role of the private sector in ecosystem markets

Visit the Chesapeake Bay Commission's website for more information about the land conservation report.


Bay out of Balance - Broken System Allows Phosphorus Pollution to Worsen

Year after year, vast amounts of pollutants pour into Chesapeake Bay, fouling the largest estuary in the United States and ultimately creating large dead zones in waters that once teemed with life. For decades, many have lamented the decline in the bay's health, but efforts to stop the ongoing damage and restore this once-pristine jewel have so far been largely fruitless. The three major culprits are phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment, which come from many sources in the six-state watershed. But of the three, phosphorus contamination is uniquely the result of largely unregulated human activity - farming. Agriculture, especially poultry, is the source for 45 percent of the phosphorus that flows from fields into creeks and streams and ultimately into the bay. Farmers apply phosphorus-rich manure, fertilizers and sewage sludge to their fields to support their crops - and as a way to cheaply and conveniently dispose of manure and sludge. New Environmental Working Group (EWG) research shows that in many cases, these applications fall on soil that already holds more than enough of the nutrient to satisfy plants' needs. In some counties, up to 80 percent of soils tested have excessive amounts of phosphorus, and this excess constantly washes into local waterways and the bay. EWG's research developed a county-by-county accounting of where the most phosphorus-overloaded soils are located and revealed major weaknesses in the way that state agricultural agencies try to monitor and control the problem. In part because of these inconsistencies and regulatory gaps, phosphorus contamination of the bay continues unabated. Read EWG's latest research on this threat to Chesapeake Bay and find out about the three urgent steps that we believe state and federal officials must take to turn around this alarming situation.


EPA Issues Final Chesapeake Bay TMDL

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week established a final TMDL watershed plan to restore clean water in Chesapeake Bay and the region's streams, creeks and rivers. The TMDL is driven primarily by jurisdictions' plans to put all needed pollution controls in place by 2025 and EPA will hold jurisdictions accountable for results along the way. The pollution diet, formally known as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), identifies the necessary reductions of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The TMDL is shaped by an extensive public and stakeholder involvement effort during the past two years, coupled with detailed plans by jurisdictions for how they will achieve pollution reductions. To address deficiencies in draft plans submitted by jurisdictions in September, EPA worked closely with the jurisdictions during the past several months. As a result of this cooperative work and through strong state leadership, the final plans were significantly improved. EPA was able to reduce and remove most federal backstop measures that were in the draft TMDL, while still maintaining rigorous accountability through enhanced oversight and the availability of contingency actions. The result is a TMDL that is primarily shaped by the jurisdictions' plans to reduce pollution, which has been EPA's goal from the outset.


Trainings and Conferences

Design, Installation & Maintenance of Constructed Wetlands & Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance Systems

March 16, 2011, 12-2 Eastern

Cost: $139- Early Bird Registration until 2/25/11

Learn how to boost the performance of constructed wetland designs, and what research is telling us about runoff reduction and pollutant removal rates. You will also be introduced to "regenerative stormwater conveyance," an innovative approach to convey and treat runoff and restore habitats, orginially developed as an alternative outfall design for coastal plain sites. Click here for the Center for Watershed Protection 2011 webcast series flyer.


NACo Webinar: A New Wave of Tools for Coastal County Resiliency

February 17, 2010 2-3:15 pm Eastern Time

Are you in a coastal county? Haven't visited the Digital Coast? Get a sneak peek at upcoming tools and learn about NACo's Digital Coast partnership. NACo and our partner organizations have developed exciting new instruments to help you access data, information, training opportunities and applications at no cost to you. Join us as speakers demonstrate how these resources can help you with land use planning, hazard mitigation and emergency management.

US EPA SWMM5 & PCSWMM Stormwater Modeling Workshop

February 22-23, 2011. Toronto, Ontario.
CHI offers 2-day training workshops in many locations in the US and Canada. Each workshop provides the time-limited PCSWMM/SWMM5 software and is designed to help you become proficient with the modeling packages. In two days of hands-on workshops, you will learn the latest version of the PCSWMM graphical decision support system, as well as the internals of the latest version of Stormwater Management Model (SWMM5). Lectures are interspersed with hands-on exercises allowing you to explore the different aspects of the programs. Learning will be encouraged with a relaxed atmosphere and ample personal instruction. PCSWMM software, included with the workshop, together with all documentation and instructional materials, is time-limited but a full license may be purchased with a $500 discount. 
AWSPs members receive a special 15% discount of the conference & workshop. Contact us now to receive the discount. 


 International Conference on Stormwater and Urban Water Systems Modeling

February 24-25, 2011. Toronto, Ontario. 

This annual conference is a forum for professional from across North America and overseas to exchange ideas and experience on current practices and emerging technologies. This forum is for engineers, scientists, modelers and administrators involved in water pollution control and water systems design and analysis. Started in 1967 as the SWMM Users Group Meeting, it is now the recoginzed meeting place for enthusiasts in this field. Presentations are of a high standard, attendance is large and discussion is lively because there are no parallel sessions and, by accepting papers up to the last few weeks before the event, a spontaneity is achieved which gives this conference special character. The proceedings are published as hard-bound monographs - peer reviewed and closely edited for consistency and clarity with a comprehensive index. Detailed papers make them a valuable resource. The 2010 proceedings, Cognitive Modeling of Urban Water Systems - Monograph 19, will be distributed at the conference and is included in the registration fee. Past volumes are also available.AWSPs members receive a special 15% discount of the conference & workshop. Contact us now to receive the discount.  


Innovating Policy for Chesapeake Bay Restoration

March 29, 2011. Cambridge, MD

The purpose of this one-day conference is to foster innovative thinking on the suite of federal and state policies needed to reduce water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Presenters will examine shortcomings of existing policy approaches and highlight opportunities for correcting those deficiencies from economic, political, legal, ecological, and policy perspectives. The conference will also examine issues related to the pace and magnitude of the nutrient and sediment reductions, efficient and fair allocations of load reductions between states, the structure of interstate agreements, ecological and economic uncertainty, and adaptive management. The presenters are leading economic, scientific, and policy authorities on water quality policy from academia, government agencies, and nonprofits. Conference participants will be encouraged to engage in discussion. This conference is made possible through the generous support of the following sponsors: USDA ERS, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Farm Foundation, and Penn State Environment and Natural Resources Institute. Click here for registration and more information 


American Water Resources Association (AWRA) 

April 18-20, 2011. Baltimore, MD

The 2011 Spring Specialty Conference "Managing Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources: Adaptation Issues, Options, and Strategies," is designed to address the frustrations experienced by scientists, engineers, water managers, and policy makers over the real or perceived disconnects between science and policy regarding climate change, and the difficulties these disconnects present in decision making.  Experts will debate appropriate approaches for climate change adaptation. Federal, state and local agency officials will discuss their climate change adaptation strategies and approaches.  Case studies on how new programs are being designed or old programs refitted to adjust to climate change will be presented in concurrent sessions.  Networking opportunities with fellow professionals will be unparalleled.  Nearly everyone in the water resources community, both nationally and internationally, that are wrestling with climate change issues will benefit from the Conference. Here is the program at a glance.


Coastal Zone 2011

July 17-21, 2011, Chicago, IL

The Call for Abstracts has been issued for the Coastal Zone 2011 Conference. The overall conference theme is Winds of Change: Great Lakes, Great Oceans, Great Communities. Sessions will be organized around four conference tracks: Planning for Resilient Great Lakes, Coasts, and Ecosystems; Healthy Habitats, Healthy Coastal and Great Lakes

Communities; Observing, Modeling, and Monitoring; and Vibrant Coastal, Great Lakes, and Marine Economies.


International Forum: Stormwater Management in Urban - Call for Speakers  

October 23-25,2011, Quebec, Canada 


The Saint-Francois Watershed Steering Committee (COGESAF) with their two major partners, University of Sherbrooke and the City of Sherbrooke, are pleased to invite stormwater management professionals from Quebec, Canada and all around the world to submit for the call for speakers and posters. (Available on the Forum website, till April 8, 2011)


This conference will be held from October 23-25, 2011 at the Cultural Center of the University of Sherbrooke (Québec, Canada). Speakers and participants from all the stormwater management sectors will be invited to present practical tools, to share experiences to create new partnerships.


Professionals from municipalities, universities, watershed organizations, engineering firms, environmental organizations, developers and investors are invited to respond to the call for speakers and posters to present a paper concerning one of the major themes:

  • Governance, strategy development and territorial planning
  • Assessment of innovative stormwater sewage and harvesting techniques
  • Modeling tools
  • Stormwater management in watershed scale
For more information, click here:




AWSPs members receive a special savings of 70% off conference registration fees.

Cool Links

Cool Links

"Cool Links" provides information on some new or new-found resources that are helpful to watershed managers and stormwater professionals.



The Watershed Treatment Model 2010 

The Center for Watershed Protection is pleased to announce the release of a new and improved version of the Watershed Treatment Model (WTM).  If you are a local government tasked with meeting Chesapeake Bay and/or local TMDL goals, this free tool can help you with your TMDL accounting and implementation tracking needs. The WTM is a simple spreadsheet-based model that estimates the cumulative effect of structural and non-structural management practices in a watershed. The revised WTM incorporates a wider suite of practices, including Low Impact Development (LID) strategies, incorporates runoff reduction rather than traditional pollutants alone, and allows for a more detailed assessment of programmatic practices such as septic system management and lawn care education programs.  Some advantages of the WTM over other available models are that it:  1) accounts for the full suite of practice options, and 2) can be operated by mere mortals (i.e., non-modelers). The Center is seeking funding to  

  1. create an on-line user's group for the WTM that allows model users to share their experiences,
  2. create a "data hub" that allows users to share unique customized versions or the WTM or data sources unique to their region, and
  3. create a Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the WTM that incorporates geographical information directly.

For a free copy of the WTM and its User's Guide, go the Center's website at: For more information on the WTM, or to provide some feedback on your experiences, contact Deb Caraco at:


A Sustainable Chesapeake: Better Models for Conservation provides an important conservation resource for individuals, organizations, governments and businesses across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This new book profiles promising conservation practices and technologies and describes the protection of critical land and water resources. Thirty-one case studies feature the work of government and private organizations and conservation leaders throughout the Bay watershed. The book's six chapters-Climate Change Solutions, Stream Restoration, Green Infrastructure, Incentive Driven Conservation, Watershed Protection, and Stewardship-are each introduced with a summary of the restoration principles learned from the projects. The case studies show the many dimensions of land and water conservation through a standardized, user-friendly format that includes photos, diagrams, tables, facts and concepts that people and organizations can draw from to solve local conservation challenges. 


The University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems 2009 Wet Weather Benchmarking Report summarizes the results of a benchmarking analysis of wet weather programs across the U.S.  The topics included: industrial stormwater, municipal stormwater, construction stormwater, wet weather monitoring, combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, water quality based effluent limits, and land application of waste.  


New Video on Philadelphia's Green Infrastructure Plan

When it rains in the City of Brotherly Love, problems soon follow because more than half the city has "combined" sewers - pipes that carry both stormwater and sewage. When it rains, the system fills quickly. The surplus, which includes raw sewage and road oil, backs up into basements and gushes untreated into rivers through overflow pipes. Philadelphia's 20-year stormwater management plan is based on "green infrastructure" and offers benefits that can be appreciated above the ground. Philadelphia's plan envisions transforming the city into an oasis of rain gardens, green roofs, treescapes, and porous pavements, which advocates say is cheaper than building miles-long, multibillion-dollar tunnels to hold storm-water overflows--and makes for a more liveable, prettier city with higher property values and better community health.  The GreenTreks Network has created a short 10-minute video explaining, both with visuals and interviews, these concepts.  This video is ideal to send to your city council, planning board, and others to educate them about sewer overflow and stormwater problems and solutions.  


The River Restoration Centre (RRC) provides a focal point for the exchange of information and expertise relating to river restoration and enhancement in the United Kingdom (UK). A key role of the RRC is to transfer our knowledge and experience of river restoration projects across the UK to a wider audience. The RRC organizes guest speaker seminars, and provide archived versions of these talks on their website.  Topics to date include innovative stream restoration techniques, stormwater management for catchment restoration, floodplain restoration and more.


Center for Watershed Protection FAQs Page

Have a question related to watersheds or stormwater? The Center for Watershed Protection field many calls and emails on a variety of these topics.  We often get repeat questions from folks, so we have added a Frequently Asked Questions section to our website in the hopes that it will help others with similar questions.

Runoff Rundown Team:

Snehal Pulivarti, Karen Cappiella, Joe Battiata, Bill Stack, Chris Swann, Laurel Woodworth, Kelly Collins, and Hye Yeong Kwon. 


If you have suggestions for future Runoff Rundown content, or would like to contribute an article, contact us at