Housing projects, shopping centers, and other forms of growth has impaired 2,000 miles of Maryland waterways. New growth may affect another 20 miles annually.
Environmental Site Design (ESD) offers the possibility of halting the decline and improving those 2,000 miles of degraded waters. But this will only happen if both volunteer and professional clean water advocates provide the oversight and public support critical to making ESD work. To learn how you can help read on.
ESD is a comprehensive approach to planning development so we get more of the benefits and fewer aquatic resource impacts. Through ESD project planners:
To see these 15 ESD practices and for further detail on how ESD works check out the following Adobe version of our PowerPoint presentation: Does A Concept Plan Show ESD Has Been Used To Maximize Aquatic Resource Protection?
A major difference between ESD and past approaches to stormwater management is that runoff from both existing and new impervious surfaces must be treated. For example, let's say a 20-acre site has an existing block of stores on it which covers about five acres. A proposal is made to build more stores and expand parking areas which will add another five acres of impervious area.
In the past, treatment would only have been required for the new five acres of impervious surfaces. But with ESD runoff from all ten acres of existing and proposed rooftops, parking, and other impervious surfaces must be treated if located within the limits of disturbance.
The implications of this requirement are truly profound.
Over time most existing developed areas will be modified in ways that will result in treating runoff with ESD practices. In other words, treatment will eventually be provided for most existing impervious areas. This treatment will allow recovery of downstream waters.
How quickly could this happen?
It is unclear if ESD in its present form can provide this tremendous benefits. If the Limits of Disturbance are defined very narrowly then little existing impervious area runoff will be treated with ESD practices. However, defining limits more broadly may increase development costs. If this is the case then we should explore ways that we can provide incentives to maximize treatment.
The first step with both levels of review is to obtain the ESD Concept Plan and Narrative as well as the site or subdivision plan from the local planning-zoning staff or the local stormwater review officials:
If you have difficulty obtaining the plans or narrative contact us at Help@ceds.org or 410-654-3021. We can make a call to see if we can get the documents. There's no charge for this service.
If you answered yes to each of these questions, then chances are the project is making good use of ESD. However, take a moment to look for the following. A "yes" to any of these questions indicates that full ESD compliance has not been fully achieved.
Note that the preliminary review applies to most projects with the exception of those considered Redevelopment. A redevelopment project is one where more then 40% of a site is covered by existing impervious surfaces. See Detailed Review below for advice on evaluating ESD compliance on Redevelopment projects.
If you have any questions on the preliminary review then contact us at Help@ceds.org or 410-654-3021. Also, could you e-mail us the findings from each preliminary review you conduct? We hope to compile a statewide database consisting of reviews conducted by clean water advocates.
The specifics of the detailed review are too complex to present in this webpage. Instead, the specifics are presented in the following Adobe version of our PowerPoint presentation on: How to Use ESD to Protect Aquatic Resources. We also created the following checklist to walk clean water advocates through the detailed review process: CEDS Environmental Site Design Checklist.
If you have any questions on the detailed review then contact us at Help@ceds.org or 410-654-3021. Also, could you forward us a copy of your completed checklists? We hope to use these checklists to compile a statewide database of reviews conducted by clean water advocates.
If you feel project plans show full use has not been made of Environmental Site Design, then we urge you to think in terms of Equitable Solutions rather then litigation. An Equitable Solution is one which resolves citizen concerns - in this case a perceived ESD deficiency - while allowing the applicant to achieve their goals. CEDS has found that the Equitable Solutions approach triples the likelihood of resolving citizens concerns at a fraction of the cost of hiring a lawyer to stop a project.
Here are the steps we suggest for winning greater use of ESD through Equitable Solutions:
Following are links to the resources cited in these presentations:
Chesapeake Bay watershed ESD-LID resources:
ESD Survey Results:
If you are seeking to protect a waterway or neighborhood from the impact of a proposed development project, then CEDS would be delighted to take a quick, no-cost look at project plans for compliance with ESD requirements. We can also check for a number of other potential impacts, such as traffic, school overcrowding, viewsheds, and other issues listed in the CEDS Quality of Life Impact Review Checklist or our 300-page book How To Win Land Development Issues.
CEDS often receives requests from nonprofit groups, development companies, attorneys, and others for referrals to engineers who can prepare Maryland Environmental Site Design plans. To satisfy these requests we are compiling a directory of ESD Engineers. If you would like to be listed in the directory then click the following text: ESD Engineers Survey.
Contact CEDS at 410-654-3021 or Help@ceds.org to discuss the possibility of conducting an Environmental Site Design workshop in your area. The workshop can be a two-hour evening introduction or an all-day intensive training.
We can also carry out a review of how ESD is being implemented in a watershed, town, county or other area. This would include an assessment of whether approved plans fully comply with ESD requirements, how well ESD practices are being installed and maintained, and strategy recommendations for improving both. For an example see: Opportunities to Improve Environmental Protection in the Critical Area of Saint Mary’s County.
Presently, no workshops are scheduled. If you'd like to discuss scheduling a workshop for your area then please contact CEDS at 410-654-3021 or Help@ceds.org.