Using An "Impervious Permit" Allowance System To Reduce Impervious Surface Coverage for Environmental Sustainability

EPA Grant Number: SU831880
Title: Using An "Impervious Permit" Allowance System To Reduce Impervious Surface Coverage for Environmental Sustainability
Investigators: Welty, Claire , Hanson, Royce
Current Investigators: Welty, Claire , Vicino, Thomas J. , McGuire, Michael P. , Hanlon, Bernadette , Fraley, Lisa , Kolb, Nathan , Hanson, Royce , Sharkey, Steve
Institution: University of Maryland - Baltimore County
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $8,269
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Current development dynamics and population projections suggest that further decentralized urbanization is likely to proceed into the near future, resulting in the continuing degradation of the physical environment. It is therefore necessary to introduce governmental policies to reduce the negative environmental impacts of the built environment. This design outlines an innovative policy technique to address the problem of reducing the impact of impervious surface coverage on water quality. The technical challenge is to encourage developers to limit impervious surface coverage by creating vegetated space, and reduce urban runoff by implementing innovative storm water management practices.


The proposed design is the application of a permit allowance system to reduce impervious surface coverage (ISC). The design would establish a "cap" on impervious surfaces on a per lot basis in watersheds of specific size. Similar to the Acid Rain "cap and trade" program, this policy design allows developers to trade "impervious surface credits" and offers flexibility in how developers choose to reduce impervious surface coverage. This innovative design applies market-based approaches to reduce pollution, making pervious surface a valued good. The product of this design will be a strategic manual for policymakers and practitioners interested in implementing the policy program.

The overall goal of the design is to enhance the environmental, economic and social benefits of increased vegetated spaces and reduced urban runoff. This program maximizes important aspects of sustainability, creating healthy, livable communities. Using GIS technology and a well-developed database, the program design will accurately track the amount of impervious and pervious surface coverage. A cost-benefit analysis will be conducted to evaluate the program.

Bringing experts together in a university-sponsored symposium, this design will allow scientists, practitioners and planners to critically evaluate the students' design. This will provide students a unique opportunity to gain feedback and critical evaluation from experts in the field. Graduate students will also gain from the experience of presenting at several university seminar lecture series and capstone classes in public policy, geography and environmental systems, and multidisciplinary programs.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

public policy, cost-benefit, decision-making, sustainable development., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Ground Water, Ecology, Water & Watershed, Environmental Chemistry, Wet Weather Flows, Engineering, Watersheds, fate and transport, pathogens, ecosystem modeling, coastal watershed, contaminant transport, suburban watersheds, runoff, decision making, urban runoff, pollution identification and control, microbial pollution, decision model, stormwater drainage, impervious surface covering, permitting, non-point sources, water quality, stakeholders, community values, active control, storm water

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report