After decades of effort, the voluntary, collaborative approach to restoring the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay— the largest estuary in the United States—has not worked and, in fact, is failing. A diverse group of 57 senior scientists and policymakers have joined forces to save the Bay. This is our plan.

Watershed Assistance Collaborative Spotlight: Financing Stormwater Management

The Stormwater Financing and Outreach Unit (SFOU) was created in 2010 after DNR and the Environmental Finance Center began working together to find better ways to provide technical assistance to Maryland  communities on innovative ways to pay for stormwater management.  The first such community to receive assistance was the Town of Ocean City.  After working directly with town staff, homeowner associations, the commercial sector, and non-profit organizations, specific financing recommendations were made to the Town of Ocean City in late 2011 on measures to help pay for up to $12 million in stormwater related expenses the town needs over the next decade.  The work of the EFC combined stormwater outreach activities along with detailed financing recommendations to the Town of Ocean City.  This approach was considered successful enough for DNR to sponsor similar stormwater work to be conducted by the unit  in two communities a year who can receive similar technical assistance like that given to Ocean City.  The two communities chosen in 2011 for stormwater assistance were the Town of Berlin and the City of Salisbury.

Outreach efforts in Berlin began with developing a stormwater steering committee made up of business owners and citizens from the town who periodically provide guidance on stormwater concerns within their neighborhood throughout the project year.  Several outreach events were also held to engage the community on stormwater issues.  These activities include an engineer’s environmental site design workshop; a stormwater photo contest; several public meetings; and participation in several town festivals.  Although Berlinis a small community located on the Eastern Shore, they are taking sustainability efforts very seriously as they try to act proactively about addressing stormwater management.

The City of Salisbury is also working closely with the EFC to address their stormwater needs. Salisbury is a growing Maryland community that has no dedicated funding for stormwater.  The stormwater unit is working directly with City officials to recommend a comprehensive financing strategy that will build an optimal stormwater program and is expected to cover all necessary stormwater related expenses over the next decade.

The Stormwater Financing and Outreach Unit is currently seeking other interested communities to offer assistance in 2012 and 2013.  For more information about this opportunity, please visit www.efc.umd.edu or call Joanne Throwe at 301-405-5036.