WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), and Prince George’s County announced a $100 million initiative to demonstrate how community-based, public-private partnerships (P3s) can spur green infrastructure-driven stormwater controls, while creating thousands of local jobs and boosting economic growth. EPA and MDE have joined forces with Prince George’s County to provide technical and regulatory support for developing and implementing the Prince George’s County Urban Stormwater Retrofit Public-Private Partnership Demonstration Pilot.
The county plans to retrofit an initial 2,000 acres by leveraging private equity dollars to treat 90 percent and retain one inch of runoff, and achieve pollution reductions of 50 percent of nitrogen, 40 percent of phosphorus, and 80 percent of sediment.
The demonstration project will be the focus of a webcast on Monday, Jan. 13, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. The webcast, part of the “Faster-Cheaper-Greener” webcast series co-sponsored by EPA and the Water Environment Federation, has drawn more than 1,000 registrants. Monday’s webcast will feature presentations from Prince George’s County leaders, Adam Ortiz, Larry Coffman, and Roland Jones. For more information and to register for the webcast, visit http://mp118885.cdn.mediaplatform.com/118885/ml/mp/4000/5345/5417/32006/Lobby/default.htm.
“Local governments around the country are seeing the benefits of utilizing green infrastructure for controlling stormwater and improving overall quality of life for its citizens,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Local jurisdictions like Prince George’s County are leading the way by providing valuable examples to others on the road to creating sustainable communities and healthy watersheds.”
To meet its obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, Prince George’s County plans to retrofit approximately 8,000 acres of existing impervious surfaces.
The model effort is designed to showcase a sustainable approach for local officials to meet the challenges of large scale urban infrastructure retrofit.
Performance goals include: promoting new retrofit technologies; mentoring the growth of new locally based businesses; job creation; long-term operation and maintenance; facilitating use of NGO’s; and, community outreach, revitalization and participation.
“To optimize the economic and environmental benefits of this private sector partnership required the County to reinvent every aspect of how it does business including, financing, procurement, planning, design, permitting, construction, construction management, maintenance and inspection,” said Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources (DER) Director Adam Ortiz. “Although challenging, we believe we have developed a true partnership where the goals of government, private business and the public are completely aligned to meet our multiple programmatic goals.”
DER is expected to benefit from the pilot partnership by reducing the administrative and procurement costs of green infrastructure practices and creating efficiencies only available through private business and market forces. By reinvesting the cost savings, the county expects to retrofit some of the 6,000 acres remaining to be converted.
The county released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and accepted bids in July 2013. The selected bidder will provide financing capabilities funding a minimum of 40 percent of the program costs upfront, enabling project construction to begin sooner and proceed more quickly.
The pilot effort is designed to serve as a model for creating a new green infrastructure urban stormwater retrofit market and thousands of local jobs.
The county, driven by Maryland’s stormwater legislation, has successfully implemented local stormwater requirements, which are attractive to private equity investors for sound, long-term financing.
Prince George’s County is primarily taking a green street approach to achieve the 2,000-acre retrofit through high performance, low impact practices. A green street is one that minimizes the environmental impact of a roadway by practices such as reducing the amount of water that is piped directly into streams and rivers; creating rain gardens; installing street tree canopy; using energy efficient lighting; and encouraging pedestrian and bicycle access. Green streets also provide aesthetic and economic benefits.
“There is tremendous opportunity for Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) that focus on cleaning up stormwater pollution to have a positive impact on Maryland’s environment and economy,” said MDE Secretary Robert Summers. “Ninety-five percent of Maryland’s land area and its stormwater drain into the Chesapeake Bay, and all of our streams, rivers, reservoirs and drinking water is impacted by stormwater pollution. Along with the environmental benefits of cleaning up our streams, rivers, reservoirs and Chesapeake Bay, employing P3s to control stormwater pollution revitalizes our communities and creates jobs for current and future citizens.”
In order to apply the lessons learned from this and other “next generation” GI-driven, urban stormwater retrofit approaches, EPA has partnered with the Water Environment Federation and others to share tools, technologies and innovative financing through its “Faster, Cheaper, Greener” webcast series.
The agency also conducts workshops for educating local communities, municipalities, cities, states, regulators, engineering and financial consultants.