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City offers incentive for green developers

While the city of Chattanooga waits to officially implement new stormwater runoff development standards two years from now, the city is working to offer local developers who meet those standards early a yet-to-be-determined monetary incentive as well as special recognition.

Called the Low Impact Development Excellence Award, the special designation is for developers who correctly and creatively adopt the new standards within the city before their official implementation. Once the standards are implemented citywide, those who have received the award will serve as an example for future projects.

The award is being made possible through a recent $28,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, in partnership with the Tennessee Stormwater Association, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

“It’s an incentive and an award for recognition,” said Chattanooga Water Quality Manager Dr. Mo Minkara. “We have the process to give a financial award to sites who went beyond what was required. We are hoping it will encourage people to use [the new standards] and see it is a pilot or training process.”

In addition to the incentive program, everyone who meets these new standards will receive credit toward the city-issued water quality fee.

The new stormwater runoff standards mandate that the first inch of rainfall on a newly developed or redeveloped site must be either absorbed into the site or reused, he said. The new standards also require sites to treat runoff through green infrastructure including bioretention areas, permeable pavement and green roofing as opposed to the current system of large drainage pipes and detention ponds.

“These are practices that make a site more sustainable and decrease excess stormwater runoff,” Minkara said of the new standards. “A good example is Renaissance Park since the soil and plant media filter and retain runoff before it goes into receiving streams.”

These new standards will ultimately improve Chattanooga’s overall water quality and Minkara said they will also help decrease some of the flooding and drainage issues that have been part of the city’s ongoing water quality and sewer problems.

The new development standards will only apply to new construction projects or those being renovated once the standards are in place, said Minkara.

Sites that are retrofitted before the official implementation are also eligible for the Low Impact Development Excellence Award.

For more information contact the Chattanooga Water Quality office at 643-5877.

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