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Water Quality Scorecard: Incorporating Green Infrastructure Practices at the Municipal, Neighborhood, and Site Scale

Water Quality Scorecard

Download Water Quality Scorecard (PDF) (56 pp, 4.7M, About PDF)

EPA's Smart Growth Program, in conjunction with the Office of Water, has released Water Quality Scorecard: Incorporating Green Infrastructure Practices at the Municipal, Neighborhood, and Site Scale.This scorecard offers policy options for protecting and improving water quality across different scales of land use and across multiple municipal departments.

Many communities across the United States face the challenge of balancing water quality protection with accommodating new growth and development. Conventional development practices cover large areas with impervious surfaces such as roads, driveways, and buildings. Once such development occurs, rainwater cannot infiltrate into the ground. Instead, it runs off the land at much higher levels than would naturally occur. The collective force of this runoff scours streams, erodes stream banks, and carries large quantities of sediment and other pollutants into waterbodies each time it rains.

Communities are recognizing the importance of managing water quality impacts of development at a variety of scales, including the municipal, neighborhood, and site levels. Green infrastructure is a comprehensive approach to water quality protection defined by a range of natural and built systems that can occur at all three scales.

The Water Quality Scorecard was developed to help local governments identify opportunities to remove barriers and revise and create codes, ordinances, and incentives to better protect water quality. It guides municipal staff through a review of relevant local codes and ordinances across multiple municipal departments to ensure that these codes work together to support a green infrastructure approach. The two main goals of this tool are to: (1) help communities protect water quality by identifying ways to reduce the amount of stormwater flows in a community and (2) educate stakeholders on the wide range of policies and regulations that have water quality implications.

The scorecard is intended for municipalities of various sizes in rural, suburban, and urban settings, including those that have combined sewers, municipal separate storm sewers, or limited or no existing stormwater infrastructure. It can help municipal staff, stormwater managers, planners, and other stakeholders better understand where a municipality's land development regulations and other ordinances may present barriers or opportunities to implementing a comprehensive water quality protection approach. The scorecard provides policy options, resources, and case studies to help communities develop a comprehensive water quality program.

We intend to update this page with case studies of how the Water Quality Scorecard has been used, scores from test communities, and more.  Please send your case study suggestions, scores, and any other comments or feedback to the EPA project manager, Abby Hall, at hall.abby@epa.gov or (202) 566-2086.  (Test community scores will only be used as examples to show other communities how the scorecard works.)

For hard copies, email nscep@bps-lmit.com or call (800) 490-9198 and request EPA 231-B-09-001.

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