Location: Olsson Hall, Link Lab Conference Room 211 &Zoom
Add to Calendar 2023-02-02T14:00:00 2023-02-02T16:00:00 America/New_York PhD Proposal: Jacob Nelson All Invited Committee Members: Olsson Hall, Link Lab Conference Room 211 &Zoom

All Invited

Committee Members:

  • Majid Shafiee-Jood (chair) - ESE Department, UVA
  • Jonathan Goodall (advisor) - ESE Department, UVA
  • Teresa Culver - ESE Department, UVA
  • William Shobe - Frank Batten School, UVA
  • Kurt Stephenson - Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

Meeting Information: Olsson Hall, Link Lab Conference Room 211 and Zoom
For Zoom information, please send an email to ese-programs@virginia.edu.

Title: Advancing Stormwater Quality Compliance: BMP Maintenance Costs and Water Quality Trading Opportunities in Virginia


In developed areas (e.g., roadways, parking lots, or rooftops), stormwater runoff, carries nutrients, metals, bacteria, sediment, trash, and other forms of pollution to water bodies. Amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA) seek to improve water quality by requiring the permitting of stormwater runoff. Compliance with stormwater quality regulations has traditionally been accomplished using best management practices (BMPs) that control stormwater quality and quantity either onsite or at a regional treatment facility. An alternative, market-based option allows permit requirements to be met offset through participation in water quality trading (WQT). In WQT, credits, representing pollution reduction achieved offsite within a specified geographic area, can be purchased to offset onsite permit treatment requirements. However, our understanding of the challenges and opportunities for cost-effective compliance under these options, given that it is a new and emerging water quality compliance approach, is lacking.  

The goal of this proposed dissertation is to improve understanding of stormwater quality compliance using both traditional BMP and newer WQT approaches through three research objectives: 1) characterizing institutional and environmental challenges that impact the maintenance and cost of BMPs owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), 2) describing current stormwater compliance adoption patterns of land developers in Roanoke, Virginia, and 3) quantifying future credit demand for VDOT in Virginia’s Nonpoint source (NPS) WQT program. The Commonwealth of Virginia, as a national leader in WQT, provides a unique case study to address knowledge gaps in stormwater quality compliance. For the first objective, I will assess maintenance trends and operation and maintenance costs associated with four years of maintenance work orders for BMPs owned and managed by VDOT, including data from a recent BMP audit conducted by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ). For the second objective, I will review engineering documents from Roanoke, Virginia to collate a novel dataset, which I use to characterize the credit demand associated with development projects, including project characteristics, required nutrient load reduction, and developers’ preferences for compliance methods. For the third objective, I will develop a GIS-based methodology for forecasting probable credit demand for VDOT.  

The research conducted through this proposed dissertation will improve our understanding of challenges associated with managing BMP maintenance at a statewide scale, as well as opportunities for cost savings. Additionally, this work will describe, for the first time, how credits are being implemented by land developers, to achieve stormwater quality compliance at the city-scale. Lastly, the credit demand forecasting methodology will be a new approach to estimate future credit demand at a statewide scale and enable the coordination of future credit supply with forecasted credit demand. The results of this work will characterize challenges and opportunities related to stormwater quality compliance for large and small stormwater dischargers under the influence of an active, non-traditional WQT program. The results can inform other compliance programs across the United States of these challenges and opportunities, which could improve stormwater quality compliance in their respective states.