A recent news item was published on the State’s Ecosystem Enhancement Program’s dedication of a stormwater best management practice (BMP) funded through impact fees dedicated to reducing nutrients in the Neuse River Basin. An article in New Bern’s Sun Journal describes the BMP as treating 1,000 acres of storm water runoff in the City –an impressive sized area. Most urban BMPs are engineered for an area 1/10th that size or smaller.
What’s this have to do with nutrient policy? Since the 2001 inception of the Neuse Stormwater rules to curb nutrient runoff, stormwater BMPs have been the exception rather than the rule for projects that offset nutrients from development in the basin. Instead, nutrient offset providers have preferred to restore streamside forests as a way to reduce nutrients impacts from development. I touched on the reasons for this preference in a recent post – Stormwater BMPs cost more than most other nutrient reduction practices.
While research shows the restoration of forest buffers reduces nutrients, opportunities to restore buffers are limited in some of the state’s watersheds with buffer rules. One example is Jordan’s New Hope subwatersheds where nutrient increasing impacts from development must be offset within limited geographic areas where there are few opportunities for low-cost nutrient reduction practices.
In the future, practices such as those recently dedicated in New Bern will more frequently become the rule rather than the exception unless policy changes allow for more flexible location of nutrient reduction practices.