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Water Quality/Wetlands

Recent Developments

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Listed below are recent developments pertinent to water quality/wetlands from the past six months.  If you would like to suggest a recent development on this topic, please submit a short description to AASHTO (including any pertinent links) on the Share Info with AASHTO form.

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EPA Posts ‘Waters of the United States’ Webcast Recording

The Environmental Protection Agency has posted a recording of a Feb. 14 webcast discussing the agency’s regulatory revisions to the definition of the “Waters of the United States.” The webcast was held the same day that the agency published a proposed rule to clarify the federal jurisdictional boundary under the Clean Water Act, as directed in 2017 by Executive Order 13778. To view the webcast, link here. (2-22-19)

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New EPA Memo Updates, Reiterates Water Quality Trading Policies

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new memorandum to reiterate and update its policies regarding water quality trading programs. The memo sets forth six market-based principles that are intended to clarify and expand the range of options available to state and tribal governments. The principles are expected to foster the wider adoption of water quality trading and are based on the agency’s continued commitment to the use of market-, incentive- and community-based programs to improve water quality at a lower cost. For more information, link to the memo. (2-6-19)

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Army Corps Issues Mitigation Bank Credit Release Guidance

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a regulatory guidance letter addressing wetlands mitigation bank credit release schedules and consistency in establishing service areas for banks and in-lieu fee programs. The letter applies to mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs that have not yet been approved and does not apply to other types of banks. The letter specifies that credits should be released incrementally as the bank site achieves certain performance milestones. The letter also specifies when financial assurances must be posted to ensure that ecological performance standards are met. In addition, the letter specifies that mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs should have similar service areas and use the same criteria for selection. For more information, link to RGL No. 19-01. (2-22-19)

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Webinar Recording: Stormwater BMP Maintenance and Operations

A webinar on operations and maintenance of stormwater best management practices was held on Oct. 18, sponsored by the Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO and the Federal Highway Administration. The webinar provided an overview of a recent state-of-the-practice report on stormwater BMP operations and maintenance. It covered stormwater asset management programs; inventory and monitoring systems; inspection, rating and priorities; and remediation, challenges, and lessons learned. The web forum, sponsored by the AASHTO Stormwater Community of Practice, included speakers from transportation agencies in Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. For more information and to view the webinar, link here. (2-1-19)

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EPA, Army Corps Propose New ‘Waters of the U.S’ Definition

The range of waterways subject to federal pollution regulations would be narrower under a proposed rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The proposal is the Trump administration’s attempt to replace an Obama-era rule to define rivers, streams, and other water bodies subject to federal permitting. Under the proposal, wetlands not directly connected to a larger river or stream would no longer be subject to federal protections, nor would ephemeral streams that flow only after a big rainstorm. Also, irrigation ditches would not be covered. The rule would not prevent states from adopting stronger protections for their waters. For more information, link to the announcement. (12-11-18)

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EPA Proposes Revisions to the 2017 Construction Stormwater General Permit

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced proposed changes to the 2017 Construction Stormwater General Permit. The changes would remove examples of the types of parties that could be considered operators; align three requirements that implement the construction and development effluent limitations guidelines and new source performance standards more closely; and clarify individual operator responsibilities in multiple operator scenarios. The 45-day public comment period closes Jan. 28, 2019. For more information, link to the published notice and the announcement. (12-12-18)

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Army Corps Issues Guidance on Compensatory Mitigation for Dam Removal

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued guidance regarding the determination of compensatory mitigation credits in connection with dam removal. The guidance provides direction to district engineers regarding factors to consider when determining the amount of mitigation credit generated from the removal of obsolete dams or other structures. The guidance also provides recommendations for quantifying mitigation credits and for the treatment of any resulting losses of wetlands. The guidance covers factors not explicitly addressed by the compensatory mitigation regulations under 33 C.F.R. Part 332. For more information, link to the Regulatory Guidance Letter No. 18-01. (10-2-18)

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Report Documents Efforts on Advancing Permeable Pavement

A report issued by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation summarizes a November 2017 workshop on use of permeable pavement. The workshop identified gaps in knowledge and other barriers to wider deployment of permeable pavement solutions that can simultaneously solve transportation, stormwater quality, and flood control problems. Participants shared information and proposed a road map to advance use of the technology. For more information, link to the report. (8-22-18)

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Virginia DOT Evaluates Porous Asphalt to Mitigate Stormwater Runoff

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has released a report concerning the use of porous pavement to reduce stormwater runoff at park and ride facilities. The report indicates that the permeability for the porous asphalt decreased over the four-year monitoring period. The report also says that the porous asphalt at the pilot project location will continue to be effective as a stormwater best management practice (BMP) for 12 years, with $1,500 per year in maintenance costs. The report recommends that VDOT’s Location and Design Division continue to consider porous asphalt as a stormwater BMP option for park and ride facilities when deciding on the most cost-effective option based on site specific conditions. For more information, link to the report. (7-30-18)

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Recording Available: AASHTO Webinar on Innovative Stormwater BMPs

A recording and related materials from AASHTO’s May 2018 webinar on innovative best management practices (BMPs) for state DOT stormwater programs are now available. The webinar, developed by the AASHTO Stormwater Community of Practice, covered innovative linear BMPs that fit well in transportation corridors, the importance of infiltration and current research to support use of roadway embankments as a BMP, winter storm management BMPs and technologies, measuring winter storm BMP performance, and addressing total maximum daily load and regulatory issues. The webinar also addressed open graded friction course as a BMP. The recording and materials are available on the AASHTO Stormwater Community of Practice website. (6-27-18)

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Study Finds Permeable Asphalt, Concrete Help Mitigate Stormwater Runoff

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation has released a report regarding the use of full permeable concrete and asphalt pavements to mitigate stormwater runoff. The pavements were tested in a parking lot and found to work well in allowing water to soak in and to recharge the groundwater reserves. The study also found that the pavements had no water overflow and are cost-effective, requiring very little maintenance and eliminating the need for side drainage. The report recommends that proper construction processes be followed to avoid distresses of the pavement. The report also recommends pavement maintenance for reliable performance. For more information, link to the report. (March 2018)

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Revised Philadelphia Green Infrastructure Design Book Issued

The city of Philadelphia has issued an updated green infrastructure guidebook. Version 3.0 of the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure Landscape Design Guidebook includes updated plant lists and recommended plant sizes, redefined hydrologic zones, new information about local plant nurseries, and new case studies, as well as updated formatting and images. The guidebook is intended as a resource for urban landscape planners and designers and includes suggestions and stormwater management practices using green infrastructure suitable for the mid-Atlantic climate, based on the city’s six years of experience. For more information, link to the updated guidebook. (4-26-18)

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Urban Land Institute to Evaluate Miami Beach Stormwater Management

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) will evaluate the effectiveness of the city of Miami Beach’s stormwater management plan to mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise. ULI, as part of its Advisory Services Program, will assess the $600 million stormwater management program by conducting workshops, site tours, and listening sessions to provide a set of recommendations. Specifically, the organization will evaluate the effectiveness of elevated roads and the city’s modernized drainage system in addition to how recent regulatory changes have incorporated climate adaptation into land use and development codes. For more information, link to the announcement. (4-18-18)

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Study Finds Recycled Materials Make Good Stormwater Filters

Peat excavated from construction activities, taconite tailings from mining operations, and other filter media were evaluated for how well they clean stormwater in bioswales and bioslopes, according to the new issue of the Catalyst newsletter from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies. The research, funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, reviewed materials recycled from construction and industrial processes for how well they absorb water, retain pollutants, and sustain plant growth. The research found that peat and taconite tailings compared favorably with current MnDOT practices. For more information, link to Catalyst. (4-10-18)

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Use of Biochar to Reduce Stormwater Runoff Highlighted by NCHRP

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program has issued a report concerning the use of a type of biochar in soils on highway greenways to reduce stormwater runoff (NCHRP IDEA Project 182). Biochar is a porous charcoal-like material formed by combusting organic matter in an oxygen-limited environment. The report indicates that biochar can increase available water content in soil and is expected to enhance retention of stormwater. The report also illustrates that the material is a cost-effective option and can be used in the existing transportation right-of-way. The study assessed biochar in the laboratory, in a pilot project, and in the field. The report also includes an engineering and construction cost analysis. The NCHRP plans to publish its results and continue field studies. For more information, link to the report. (10-26-17)

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Compendium of Stormwater Resources Available from AASHTO CoP

A list of resources related to stormwater management for state DOTs has been posted on the AASHTO Stormwater Community of Practice web page. The compendium includes practitioner field guides, a practitioner's handbook, state of the practice reports, and AASHTO's stormwater research road map. It also lists relevant low-cost, short term research projects under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (under project 25-25), as well as full NCHRP reports related to stormwater management issues. To access the report, link here. (10-19-17)

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FHWA Newsletter Addresses Bridge Permitting Process

The coordination between the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) for bridge permitting is addressed in the FHWA’s new Successes in Stewardship newsletter. The newsletter highlights the need to involve the USCG in the bridge permitting process and that a lack of awareness by state departments of transportation can lead to project delays. The newsletter provides an overview of the bridge permitting process. To determine jurisdiction and make critical decisions in the permitting process, the FHWA notifies the USCG of any bridge projects prior to National Environmental Policy Act scoping. The USCG and FHWA also have developed training for state DOTs to specify the roles and responsibilities of each agency and provide best practices for coordination. The USCG revised its Bridge Permit Application Guide to incorporate procedures from the 2014 Memorandum of Agreement with the FHWA and other modal agencies. For more information, link to the newsletter. (July 2017)

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Webinar Series Describes SELDM Model for Highway Stormwater Projects

Use of the Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) for highway stormwater projects was described in a series of three webinars sponsored by the Water Environment and Reuse Foundation. The webinars included: International Stormwater BMP Database: What’s In It for DOTs?; Overview of Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM) and Linkage with Stormwater BMP Database; and Application of SELDM in Transportation and Highway Stormwater Projects. SELDM was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, to help analyze the potential effects of runoff on receiving waters. It facilitates the environmental decision making process by providing results of data mining and analysis efforts for precipitation, receiving-water stormflows, and receiving-water quality by ecoregion. For more information and links to the three webinar recordings and presentations, link here. (6-23-17)

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AASHTO CEE Requests Proposals for Consultant Support for its Stormwater Community of Practice

The Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO is requesting proposals for consultant support for its Stormwater Community of Practice. The awardee will support tasks such as development of a white paper/State-of-the-Practice report based on a relevant issue as determined by the Community of Practice, and a peer exchange and knowledge transfer to be organized and hosted in partnership with FHWA. Proposals are due on June 1, 2017, by 4 P.M. EDT. For more information, link to the RFP. (5-19-17)

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Featured Case Study

  • Case Study Photo

    Colorado DOT Employs Innovative Distillation Approach to Treat Wastewater.

    Read Case Study >Photo: Colorado DOT

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