Why is the United States EPA taking so long to write the “Stormwater Rule”?



More Emphasis on Green Infrastructure

“If you were waiting for the new national stormwater rule to  be issued last month, you’ve probably noticed that, like Godot, it once again  failed to arrive. The question—this time, as with past deadlines—is what  happens next,” wrote Janice Kaspersen, editor of Stormwater Magazine, in her blog on July  9, 2013.

“The rule is expected to place more emphasis  on using green infrastructure, as well as on using retrofits to address  stormwater discharge on already-developed sites.”


Waiting for the Stormwater Rule

“One of the biggest obstacles to developing a workable rule  is, not surprisingly, its potential cost.”

“There is also speculation how decisions that have been  handed down while the rule is being worked on—such as a Virginia case  earlier this year, in which  a federal court ruled that EPA had exceeded its authority with regard to  stormwater—might ultimately affect the new rule.”

“Difficult as  it is to put all the parts together, and despite the inevitable objections from  multiple sides, EPA will need to put something out soon so that all sides are  at least debating a specific proposal rather than speculating on its content,” concludes Janice Kaspersen.


Mimic the Water Balance: Can the United States Learn from British Columbia?

“The Canadians do appear to be ahead of the US in this field because the US EPA took a really bad approach to Low Impact Design that was based on the premise that enforcing every site to the same standard would somehow fix the problems of water quality in the US,” commented Paul Crabtree, leader of the Rainwater-in-Context Initiative, after he had reflected on a commentary by Jim Dumont on the view from British Columbia.

“The USA EPA approach has done some good, but has several crippling drawbacks: a) analysis of the stream/watershed is not part of the protocol: b) sprawl and greenfield development are incentivized since compliance is easier for those development types: c) the regulations became enormously cumbersome (100’s of pages long) because the premise was arbitrary, not based on good science, and required tremendous negotiations in order to achieve passage: and d) the resultant implementation is usually an expensive quagmire that is hated by all except those who are profiting from it.”


To Learn More:

To download and read the complete article by Janice Kaspersen, click on Waiting for the Stormwater Rule.

To read the context for the observations by Paul Crabtree, click on Low Impact Development in the United States: “EPA approach has done some good, but has several crippling drawbacks,” says Paul Crabtree.