Creating a market for stormwater retrofits to harness self-interest, leverage river protections, and promote sustainable development in the District of Columbia
In a highly urban area such as Washington, D.C., vast impervious surfaces shed massive volumes of stormwater every time it rains. Stormwater retrofits that retain stormwater onsite have the potential to make D.C. “spongier,” that is, more closely mimicking a natural area where rainfall is captured by vegetation and soaks into the ground. However, getting retrofits installed to serve the 43% of D.C.’s land area that is impervious is a difficult challenge. The majority of this impervious surface achieves little or no retention, is not required to retrofit, and does not have financing available to support a retrofit.
Against this backdrop, the D.C. Department of the Environment (DDOE) drafted revised stormwater management regulations with a new requirement for regulated development projects. DDOE also saw the potential for a win–win between regulated projects and the vast areas of D.C. that need stormwater retrofits and soon embraced two key ideas: allowing regulated projects to achieve a portion of their obligation offsite makes fiscal and environmental sense and a private market that pays dividends to property owners for retrofits may optimize these benefits and yield additional ones. Read full article