- Prevention: Planning and Zoning—Through comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances, local jurisdictions decide where development should occur, how much development is allowed, and the amount of open space or working land in a community must be conserved or protected from such development. Steering development away from sensitive areas where polluted runoff does the most harm and protecting wooded and other open spaces that can naturally filter rainwater are both critical strategies for reducing stormwater pollution levels in the Bay.
Once construction is complete, redevelopment projects should manage their sites and buildings for the full "water quality volume" of stormwater—about an inch of runoff, more or less, across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. New development projects should manage for full "channel protection volume," a greater amount of water; this prevents runoff from adversely affecting nearby streams. New development sites should also use "low impact" and "environmental design" techniques (also called "green infrastructure") that mimic the natural flow and filtration of water, if at all possible.
- Permits—The federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires the largest municipalities to obtain and hold permits for their stormwater discharges (called "Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permits," or MS4s). Most of these permits in the Chesapeake Bay region are outdated (meaning more than five years old) and have been administratively continued pending new ones. As a result, many of these permits still have old and weak requirements. Even the new ones are not as accountable as they should be.
Outdated permits are currently a problem for 10 out of 11 of Virginia's largest municipalities, and six of 10 of Maryland's largest local governments. Pennsylvania's communities in the Bay region, like many smaller towns and counties in Virginia and Maryland, are covered by a different kind of permit that has less specific water pollution control requirements.
Maryland and Virginia's environmental agencies have pledged to update and strengthen the permits for large counties and cities in 2014 to help meet pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay. Stronger runoff permits will help the states implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, to reduce pollution from all sources, and clean up local streams. Urban and suburban polluted runoff is a local problem begging local solutions and promising local benefits, as well as larger benefits to the Chesapeake Bay.
Additional information about stormwater management can be found at the following websites: