Welcome back to CSN’s monthly “Stormwater Spotlight”! This month we have a guest-article by Keisha Brown, the Corvias Partnership Liaison for The Clean Water Partnership. Keisha is introducing us to the Prince George’s County community based public-private partnership model to advancing their MS4 program.
If you would like to nominate a program for a future feature, please contact David Wood (Wood.CSN@outlook.com).
In 2014, Prince George’s County (PGC) faced an enormous regulatory challenge in the management of its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System and its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits. Understanding the bigger picture and factors around the regulatory requirements, timelines, and resources the County realized the conventional approach would not support the implementation of the projects. In March 2015, PGC executed a first of its kind Community Based Public-Private Partnership (CBP3) with Corvias that is referred to as the Clean Water Partnership (CWP). The CWP was envisioned to: accelerate the implementation timeframe of BMPs, increase affordability of retrofits, reduce O&M costs of the impervious acre retrofits, advocate for innovative technology and achieve PGC’s mandate to promote education, environment and economy.
The 30-year partnership with PGC is structured to be a scalable and cost effective solution to stormwater management challenges utilizing green infrastructure that can revitalize communities, develop minority-owned businesses and create jobs. The CWP aims to implement mandated infrastructure improvements that improve water quality by retrofitting up to 4,000 acres of impervious surfaces using green infrastructure, such as LID/GI BMPs with a focus on creating a local socio-economic impact. It is driving local economic development in the region by using local, small and minority businesses to build local capacity. In fact, multiple Mentor Protégé Program (MPP) firms have grown to absorb more opportunities across the state and the District of Columbia. The CWP is an innovative, EPA endorsed, CBP3 model for counties to achieve stormwater compliance where local workforce and economic development are +50% local hiring and 30-40% of subcontracting work to local small minority and disadvantaged business. This approach has accelerated project timelines, reduced costs, and surety of execution with scale economies and more efficient procurement.
The initial phase of the partnership successfully delivered on promises to meet regulatory mandates and improve the local community.
This project has been called a “resounding success and a great example of the quality of life enhancements this type of activity can bring to communities” by the EPA and “an example for all County Executives across the country” by PGC. It was featured by Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) at CGI America 2016, and received national recognition from the White House and EPA. The CWP has also been highlighted as a successful and innovative approach to better infrastructure from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC).
PGC is the first to implement a CBP3 as a solution to focus on its socio-economic and local capacity issues through an infrastructure program. The partnership demonstrates how the public and private partner can work together to go beyond simply achieving regulatory compliance, and also reduce the burden on local government’s budgets, create economic growth, and foster better local development practices. As a result, many jurisdictions in the State and around the country are looking at the CWP and its results as a model to address their specific needs and requirements to tackle aging infrastructure. Universities are also paying close attention to the record breaking success of the program and have used the CWP as a case study for their student projects.
What’s unique about this partnership is the use of over 50 consultants and contractors, the long-term maintenance, and a truly efficient stormwater program that will continue to bring value to Prince George’s County for many years to come.
The benefits and value of a contracted long-term maintenance agreement.
Because the CWP is responsible for long term maintenance, the projects are designed and constructed with maintenance in mind. CWP consults the maintenance contractors during the design phase to ensure the projects are easily maintainable. Further, the feedback from the maintenance contractors is utilized to constantly refine the designs to make the maintenance more efficient and productive. CWP manages and delivers the projects with the objective to not just build it and leave, but to have a long lasting connection and responsibility for the projects. Because maintenance is usually the last thing to be funded and first budget item to be cut, having a thirty-year agreement in place means funding for maintenance is secured and dedicated for the life of the project. It also means that the regulatory compliance achieved by the initial construction is maintained for thirty years because Corvias is contractually obligated to make sure the projects deliver the same acre credits in year thirty as they did the day they were constructed.
The benefits and value of a stormwater program versus a lowest price full delivery contract or the traditional project by project delivery process.
The true value of a program comes through its ability to mix project types (with varying costs) to achieve larger program goals. At PGC, the CWP was able to use the larger, more cost effective projects to offset the cost of the more costly projects that achieve fewer acres, but have other community value and impact. Examples include the projects at local schools, churches, and “green streets”. Focusing only on the “cheapest acres” prevents the construction of the more expensive projects that have other intrinsic value to the county or local communities. By using a partnership in a stormwater program, instead of a traditional approach, an overall cost savings of 30+/-% can be achieved through aggregation, standardization, and economies of scale. To learn more about the Prince George’s County Clean Water Partnership with Corvias, connect to us via the website and social media outlets below: