Oregon department of transportation stormwater management initiative meeting new challenges
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Oregon Department of Transportation Stormwater Management Initiative: Meeting New Challenges. Presented by: William Fletcher, ODOT March 4, 2008. Water Quality Storm Cloud. Overview of Water Quality Issues. Regulation of stormwater is a state-wide and national issue

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Oregon Department of Transportation Stormwater Management Initiative: Meeting New Challenges

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Oregon Department of Transportation Stormwater Management Initiative:Meeting New Challenges

Presented by:

William Fletcher, ODOT

March 4, 2008

Water Quality Storm Cloud

Overview of Water Quality Issues

  • Regulation of stormwater is a state-wide and national issue

  • Development is causing more degradation of in-stream habitat

  • Copper at very low concentrations harms salmon

  • The Endangered Species Act has become the most stringent regulatory driver

Problem Statement

Stormwater has become a major impediment to efficient ESA consultation process due to:

  • Changing criteria for effect determinations in ESA Section 7 consultations

  • Extension of the “action area” from the point of discharge to the sea

Effect Determinations

  • ODOT has based effect determinations on the change between pre-project and post project conditions

Effect Determinations

  • NMFS is basing Effect Determinations on the quality of the stormwater at the point of discharge

Action Area

Current ODOT Action Area Definition

  • 2-miles downstream from point of discharge

  • Rationale: Pollutant load and concentration reduced by sedimentation and dilution

Action Area

NMFS Proposed Action Area Definition

  • From point of discharge to the ocean

  • Rationale: Dissolved pollutants stay in water column for length of fluvial system

Impact to ODOT’s Program

  • The expansion of the Action Area would require consultation for projects in large areas of Regions 4 and 5 that have never had to consult with NMFS before

Impact to ODOT’s Program

  • Increased project development costs and timelines to deal with additional consultations

  • Overwhelming of NMFS’ ability to process consultations

  • Potential for project deadlock if adversarial relationship develops between ODOT and NMFS

Impact to ODOT’s Program

Nightmare Scenario

  • Required numeric standards

  • Monitoring to demonstrate compliance

  • Potential remediation requirements

  • Consultation gridlock

ODOT’s Goals

Develop a streamlined stormwater treatment program to:

  • Provide ODOT and FHWA with certainty regarding scope, schedule, and budget

  • Meet all regulatory needs

  • Streamline the permitting process

  • Result in an overall environmental benefit and promote species recovery

Solution Strategy

All solutions must be




Solution Strategy

Collaborative approach that includes all of the interested parties



  • FHWA - EPA

  • DEQ

Solution Strategy

Internal ODOT Participation

  • ODOT Environmental and Hydraulics Technical staff,

  • ODOT Office of Maintenance

  • ODOT Environmental Leadership Team, Technical Leadership Team, and Area Managers Team

Solution Strategy

Twin tracks:

  • Technical: Develop the process and tools for effectively managing stormwater quality

  • Regulatory: Streamline the ESA consultation process

Strategy for Solutions: Technical

  • Clarify ODOT’s process for addressing stormwater management

  • Develop tools to select the most effective treatment for individual projects

  • Select design storms based on science

Strategy for Solutions: Regulatory

  • Articulation and clarification of Effect Determination criteria and thresholds

  • Develop tools for streamlined permitting:

    • Pilot projects to use the technical products in consultation

    • Programmatic approaches to consultation on stormwater issues

Strategy for Solutions: Regulatory

Effects Determinations

  • Agree that copper causes sublethal effects to listed salmonids

  • NMFS develops guidelines for Effects Determinations based on project elements and stormwater management

Strategy for Solutions: Regulatory

Permitting Streamlining

  • Agree that if “effective” BMPs are used then stormwater has been treated to maximum extent feasible

  • Include Design Storms and Preferred BMPs in SLOPES IV

  • Explore ESA Programmatic with FHWA as Action Agency

Status: Technical

  • Project Development Process

    • Planning for stormwater management early in project development

    • Incorporate Low Impact Development techniques whenever feasible

Status: Technical

  • BMP Summary Reports Completed

  • BMP Selection Tool in development

    • Draft rating of BMP effectiveness

    • Preferred BMPs identified

  • BMP Selection Tool Users’ Guide to be developed

Status: TechnicalBMP Selection

Priority BMPs for Treating Dissolved Metals

  • Treatment Mechanisms

    • Hydrologic Attenuation (infiltration) – preferred

    • Sorption, uptake, microbial transformation

  • “Preferred” BMPs

    • Infiltration trench

    • Bioretention

    • Bioslope (“Ecology Embankment”)

    • Amended Swale and Filter Strip

Status: TechnicalBMP Selection

  • Key selection criteria (metrics)

    • Treatment capability

    • Physical site suitability

    • Maintenance

    • Cost

    • Resources, risk and public perception

Status: Technical

  • Water Quality Design Storm and the Flow Control range of storms have been accepted.

Status: TechnicalWater QualityDesign Storm

Status: TechnicalWater QualityDesign Storm

Status: TechnicalFlow Control (Water Quantity)Design Storm

Lower Discharge Endpoint

  • Western OR - 42 percent of the 2-year, 24 hour event

  • Southeast, Northeast, North Central Regions: 48 percent of the 2-year, 24 hour event

  • Eastern Cascades Region: 56 percent of the 2-year, 24 hour event

    Upper Discharge Endpoint

  • Minimally incised streams -Channel bank overtopping event

  • Incised Streams -10-year/24-hour storm event

Status: TechnicalFlow Control (Water Quantity)Design Storm

Proposed threshold of concern :

  • Flow control does not need to be addressed if the project increases the 10 year 24 hour storm discharge by less than 0.5 cfs

Status: Regulatory

  • Agreement that if “effective” BMPs are used, then stormwater has been treated to maximum extent feasible

  • We will not be held to numerical standards for ESA purposes

Status: Regulatory

  • NMFS has provided written guidance for effect determinations

  • NMFS has presented a draft guidance on stormwater effects action area

  • Pilot projects selected, with active work on one in Region 1

  • Proposal for a Stormwater Programmatic rejected

Status: Regulatory

  • SLOPES IV, incorporating the use of Preferred BMPs, and the Design Storms, has been reviewed by ODOT

  • Determined that for non-SLOPES projects, stormwater analysis and conditions can be inserted into consultations via “incorporation by reference”

Next Steps

  • Investigate desirability of developing a “SLOPES” with FHWA as the Action Agency

  • Reassess usefulness of a stormwater programmatic

  • Develop alternative “action area” definition

Next Steps

Watershed Approach

  • Trading or banking of credits for small projects or projects that cannot meet water quality treatment goals

  • Mitigation for residual adverse effects from permitted projects

Definition of Success

  • When guidance is approved by regulatory partners

  • When tools and guidance are in use by project teams

  • When stormwater is no longer a contentious issue

Definition of Success

Anticipated Benefits for ODOT

  • Stormwater solutions appropriate for the project

  • Certainty in project development and construction

  • Reduction in project delays

  • Support ODOT’s sustainability goals

Definition of Success

Anticipated Benefits for

Regulatory Agencies

  • Meet regulatory requirements

  • Well-defined terms and conditions that allow for flexibility in application

  • Protect ESA-listed fish

  • Protect Oregon’s water quality and wetland resources


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