Making Partnerships Work: A Stormwater Example

August 21, 2018

The Solutions Journal

By Bruce HullSeth Brown


The complexity and scale of environmental challenges often exceed the capacities of individual organizations. Partnerships provide a strategy to marshal the needed resources, skills, and reputational clout. But partnerships can be tricky. Stormwater management provides a case in point.

Roads, roofs, lawns, and other (nearly) impervious surfaces make rain a problem, preventing groundwater recharge, causing floods, carrying pollution that creates dead zones, and overwhelming water treatment plants. Green infrastructure is part of the solution.1,2 It uses bio-swales, retention ponds, tree canopy, and countless other designed natural features to hold and filter rain where it falls rather than letting it rush off to cause problems. The catch: designing, bidding, building, and maintaining infrastructure, green or gray, are difficult and expensive tasks.

As an example, consider Prince George’s County (PGC) Maryland, which borders Washington DC. To meet state regulatory goals associated with the Chesapeake Bay’s Total Maximum Daily Load requirements, the County must retrofit approximately 15,000 acres of impervious area by 2025. The estimated cost and timeline exceeded county budgets and regulatory deadlines.

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