Low Impact Development (LID) is a method of community development that seeks to use less pavement and more natural systems to reduce impacts on the environment. This is Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund’s first report for the York County region.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is requiring townships and boroughs to update their local code to require more LID friendly techniques for new development as a condition of new MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) permits. LID methods are better for the environment because they slow the rate and volume of water that is entering local waterways after a storm event, reducing flooding, damage to streams and pollution from the runoff.
Many LID techniques benefit communities financially as well. By updating their local codes, townships and boroughs can control how meeting this new DEP requirement will impact their communities.
The Center for Watershed Protection (CWP) has developed a tool for evaluating LID as it relates to local codes. The tool gives points to a municipality for having ordinances that require parameters for development that meet LID specifications. Each municipality in this report was evaluated using the CWP tool. The scores range from 0-100, with 100 being the best possible score.
For this report, Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund evaluated 9 townships and boroughs in York County. After completing the evaluation, a letter was sent to elected and appointed officials in each municipality. The purpose of the letters was to reveal the results of our initial evaluations to the municipality and provide ample opportunity for the municipality to provide feedback. This feedback was taken into consideration for this report.
The evaluations showed a wide range of scores for municipalities in the Codorus Creek watershed. The lowest score was 10 and the highest scores were in the low 60s. According to the CWP evaluation tool, any municipality that scores below an 80 has room for improvement. By this standard, every municipality evaluated in this report has specific areas where changes could be made to local code to both increase the municipality’s score and comply with the DEP requirements for the MS4 permit.
Many municipalities scored well in the categories open space design, parking lot runoff, and rooftop runoff incentives. Many municipalities scored poorly in the sections concerning structured parking, driveways, street length, and cul-de-sacs.
Many of the code changes that could allow a municipality to meet the DEP standards for LID are simple and do not create an additional cost for developers. In many cases, studies cited in this report show that using LID is more cost effective for developers.
We encourage municipalities in this report to work with local environmental organizations and Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund to move their local codes towards being more LID friendly.