Good to see the recommended rules for stormwater management pass the Board of County Commissioners last night. As the Herald-Sun notes, the changes tighten erosion control and runoff measures that need to be implemented on construction sites, bringing development rules into compliance with new state mandates. The City Council will take up the same measures at its December 7 meeting.
As the N&O points out, though, these changes are relatively minor compared to the much more significant ones possible down the road under an accelerated-timetable creation of a Falls Lake watershed protection strategy, moved ahead on the timeline by a Wake County legislator.
There's no question that Durham's stormwater practices need improvement. Ellerbe Creek is a mess, and most of Durham was developed before modern SWM practices came into play to require on-site treatment before discharge.
As non-green as "sprawldivisions" with low density and no walkable stores or restaurants in their vicinity often are, they do have to have retention basins in many cases to slow the flow of runoff and in some cases to allow on-site treatment and mitigation. Contrast that with a good ol' rain in Durham's inner-city neighborhoods, where the water flows pretty quickly down to the creeks and off to places like Falls Lake.
Yet there are some legitimate concerns, too, and questions that we should expect -- make that demand -- to see enter the public discourse over the next year. The more I talk with elected officials and stakeholders, the more I want to see a full discussion of water quality and its regional implications enter the debate.
The first and most obvious challenge that exists: finding a fair regional strategy to pay for clean water.