If the adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies anywhere, it’s in the stormwater management world.
- Managing Runoff |
- For Flood Prevention |
- To Improve Water Quality |
- For The Economy |
- To Enhance Quality of Life |
For The Economy
Avoiding or preventing flood damage to homes, roadways, and businesses is almost always more cost effective than paying for mitigation, repair, and reconstruction after the fact; yet in the past, we tended to take the short term view and sought to save money by getting runoff away from a site as quickly as possible. The downstream and watershed-level impacts of this approach are the main reasons why there has been so much emphasis on improving stormwater management in recent years. Traditional techniques have simply not done the job.
Not surprisingly, the question of initial upfront cost always arises during discussions of stormwater management programs, and today more than ever, costs are a tremendous concern. On the other hand, the price of doing nothing is far greater; long-term savings and added value are too often overlooked.
- Stormwater management techniques that effectively control soil erosion will reduce the amount of downstream sedimentation. This reduces the cost of dredging and water treatment, while increasing recreational opportunities and business and residential property values;
- Taking a site planning approach that maintains or restores wetlands rather than removing them controls and treats wastes, reduces flooding, and improves habitat for wildlife and aquatic species;
- Minimizing stormwater runoff can prevent costly investment in sewage treatment infrastructure to deal with excessive flows reaching combined sewers. The resulting effective treatment of human and industrial waste protects rivers, beaches, and human health;
- Innovative stormwater management techniques help developers save money by replacing pipes, basins, and other infrastructure with less costly BMPs, by minimizing land clearing and grading costs, and by using less land area for stormwater management than required by traditional basins;
- Low impact development (or LID) is often less expensive than conventional development because “clustering” can reduce the cost of maintenance and municipal services such as sewer and water, trash removal, lighting, and street maintenance;
- Low impact development can also increase property values and marketability because of natural landscaping, open space, wetlands, and waterways.
With researchers estimating that population growth in the U.S. will add more than one million new single family homes and some 10,000 miles of new roadways to the landscape every year over the coming decade, the potential savings and value added by proper stormwater management is hard to ignore.
By The Numbers
- Trees reduce energy costs, clean air and water, and help protect human health. Over a 50 year period, it is estimated that the average tree provides $30,000 worth of oxygen, $35,000 worth of clean water, and $60,000 worth of air pollution removal.
- Researchers at the University of California at Davis have estimated that for every 1,000 deciduous trees in California’s Central Valley, annual stormwater runoff is reduced nearly 1 million gallons—a value of almost $7,000.
- Conserving forested land on sites increases property values by an average of 6-15—and increases the rate at which units are sold.
- A subdivision in Bucks County, PA that preserved 23% of its land as open space became the fastest selling subdivision in its price range, despite lot sizes that were significantly smaller than those found in competing developments.
- Studies in Maryland and Illinois have shown that new residential developments using “green infrastructure” stormwater management techniques saved $3,500 to $4,500 per quarter- to half-acre lot when compared to developments using conventional methods.
- Porous paving can save up to 38% compared to a detention basin.
- Air Pegasus Airport in MD saved $25,000 in infrastructure costs by retrofitting an existing sand filter to include a bio-retention area that captured additional runoff and provided added water quality benefits.