Through much convincing, DOTs in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland started utilizing performance-based contracting to comply with their MS4 permits and compensatory mitigation needs. The contracts have turn-key scopes including the acquisition of land interests, design, permitting, construction, and long-term operation and maintenance of the associated ecosystems. These projects are stream restorations, wetland creation/enhancement, or both and were won with performance-based bidding on a $/lb. of TMDL reduction or $/ac of wetland credit generation.
For one of RES’ PennDOT contracts, RES guaranteed over 573,000 lb. of sediment reduction for a unit cost across three BMPs. PennDOT collaborated with three additional stakeholders, Capital Region Water, Susquehanna Township, and Lower Paxton Township, to generate sediment reduction benefits divided among the parties. The BMPs were located on both public and private land, additionally complicating the full delivery process.
The MDOT State Highway Administration performance based MS4 TMDL reduction solution included 22,592 LF of stream restoration across six sites in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Frederick Counties. The projects combined for an annual reduction of 663 tons sediment, 2,535 lb. of phosphorus, and 7,798 lb. of nitrogen applied to SHA’s Chesapeake Bay restoration goals.
The VDOT project is enrolled as part of VDOT’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL Action Plan and included approximately three miles of degraded channel along Wancopin Creek, as well as several unnamed perennial and intermittent tributaries to Wancopin Creek and Goose Creek on private property. The project proposed to reduce approximately 4,300 lb. per year of phosphorus per Protocol 1 in the Expert Panel Report and TMDL Action Plan Guidance. However, monitoring the completed phase I demonstrated over 95% efficiency in terms of load reduction, significantly higher than the 50% default rate outlined in the Expert Panel guidance. To decrease the unit costs by increasing project scale, RES increased the size of the project by creating a privately funded mitigation bank with the remaining streams on the property through restoration or preservation, generating credits to offset impacts authorized under Clean Water Act Section 401/404 permits. Mitigation activities on the site included 4,152 linear feet of additional stream restoration, 94.81 acres of riparian buffer planting, 31.67 acres of riparian buffer restoration, and 151.32 acres of riparian buffer preservation, generating a total of 21,557 stream credits.
The divergence from the status quo of design-bid-build saved each of the taxpayer funded clients millions of dollars and reduced project timelines by years. While using stream restoration and wetland creation is not a new way of achieving TMDL reductions, the innovative full-delivery project approach has proven to be successful across multiple jurisdictions along the east coast.