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Rating System, outline a point system for current state-of-the-art landscape development. •

For driveway permits (overseen by the City Engineer and required for any development in any zone involving construction or expansion of driveways), similar language should be stipulated.


The city could set maximum runoff requirements for new developments, thus effectively requiring Low Impact Design approaches to site design. Many other cities require that new development not contribute any additional runoff into the sewers. Lowell could make this requirement apply to smaller lots, or tie development of individual properties to specific Low Impact Design measures (such as green roofs, swales, etc).

STEP 2: CREATE INCENTIVES FOR CURRENT RESIDENTS/BUSINESSES TO UTILIZE LOW IMPACT DESIGN In addition to requiring pervious pavement for new developments and expansions or changes of use to existing properties, various programs can be implemented by the City to encourage residents and businesses to embrace pervious surfacing or other low impact design features. Traditionally, government funding for stormwater infrastructure is limited, so incentives for installation will serve as important alternative funding strategies for publicly sponsored green infrastructure (such as green streets). The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) reports that local governments have begun to look to these alternative methods to fund programs. This includes charging inspection and permit fees, taxing new development at an increased rate, forming regional stormwater management districts, and creating stormwater utilities. A few of these options are outlined below.

STORMWATER UTILITY SYSTEM The City could create a stormwater utility to collect fees from residents for the purpose of managing

stormwater. Stormwater utilities are used in over 400 municipalities and counties in the U.S., driven in large part by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements that push communities to reexamine funding alternatives for stormwater programs. The stormwater utility approach is regarded as an equitable and effective approach to stormwater financing, providing a stable, dedicated funding source for future infrastructure needs. The system is equitable because it is based on actual runoff impacts instead of property values. The key challenge in establishing a stormwater utility is building public support for the idea, which requires education about the stormwater problem for both the public and decision makers.

DOWNSPOUT DISCONNECTION PROGRAM The City of Lowell could consider a Downspout Disconnection Program, similar to those established in Philadelphia, PA and Portland, OR. In those programs, residents are encouraged to prevent their rain gutter downspouts from flowing directly to the sewers, and instead redirect rainwater to a rain barrel or allow it to flow directly into the landscape. These programs are effective to treat stormwater problems at a localized, distributed scale, and have a strong public educational component. Philadelphia and Portland have successfully experimented with this type of program, providing rain barrels and a subsidy of approximately $50 to participating households.

INCREASE AWARENESS -- PUBLIC EDUCATION ABOUT STORMWATER Community support is essential for effective stormwater management. Public education programs build community support, which lead to political support. Signage on storm drains and other awareness campaigns can help the public to understand why stormwater is important, and what measures individuals and households can take to reduce runoff.



Lowell, MA neighborhood plan for the Lower Highlands  

In the Fall of 2009, a team of graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning p...

Lowell, MA neighborhood plan for the Lower Highlands  

In the Fall of 2009, a team of graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning p...