Developers and homeowner associations have a unique opportunity to address stormwater and water quality during the development of new neighborhoods and subdivisions.
Any modern development project is likely subject to stormwater regulations, but when you decide to address these requirements can make a big difference in your project’s success. Addressing stormwater in the earliest stages of a project ensures that there will be enough space and money to manage runoff at your site. This saves you and your clients time, money, and inconvenience down the road. Consider incorporating BMPs like rain gardens, permeable pavement, and other native landscaping when constructing your development. You can also take care to avoid development in environmentally sensitive areas, utilize “cluster” or “conservation development,” and leave trees untouched where possible.
Once construction is complete, HOAs can design their CC&R (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) to include requirements that protect water quality. For example, you may limit the conditions under which mature trees can be removed from a property, since trees prevent erosion and absorb significant amounts of stormwater. You may also limit the plants allowable for landscaping to native species, or limit the application of fertilizer on turf lawns.
Adding such practices or requirements to your development does not need to be a barrier to success. Instead, incorporating stormwater BMPs and marketing your development as “green” may attract new, environmentally conscious buyers. These BMPs help create desirable, healthy communities, and prevent future damage to your project from stormwater-related flooding and erosion — a win-win for residents and developers alike.
LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. There are multiple rating systems and levels of certification that can accommodate the goals of any project. One of the rating systems is for ‘new development,’ which applies to new land development projects or redevelopment projects containing residential uses, nonresidential uses, or a mix.
U.S. Green Building Council administers the LEED program, and is made up of tens of thousands of member organizations, students and community volunteers. There are 76 regional chapters. The Council advocates for green development and provides educational seminars and conferences.
EPA’s Green Infrastructure page contains a wealth of information and resources on LID and green infrastructure.
Stormwaterpartners.com offers simple maintenance checklists for a variety of stormwater BMPs.