Local governments need innovative practices to address nonpoint source pollution, which has proven to be the Achilles heel of efforts to improve surface water quality in the United States. Studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that 45% of assessed lakes and 39% of assessed rivers in the nation are polluted, and that agricultural and urban runoff were the primary sources of these problems (EPA, 2000, 2002). New approaches to address runoff are clearly necessary, and their success will depend on local government practices, yet we know little about how and why local governments innovate, particularly in response to a federal mandate. Thus in this article, we study innovation by Kansas local governments responding to Phase II of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater program, a direct effort to spur new activities by local governments. This Clean Water Act program addresses urban runoff pollution by requiring localities with small municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) to develop plans and adopt best management practices (BMPs) in six areas, called minimum control measures (MCMs). Local governments that meet established criteria then receive permits allowing them to continue to discharge stormwater runoff into U.S. waters. This program represents a new approach to addressing nonpoint source pollution in the United States.1 Because the NPDES Phase II stormwater program allows flexibility in how MS4s respond, local governments can satisfy the six MCMs with existing activities. In previous research we analyzed Phase II compliance (White & Boswell, 2006), but not the extent to which Phase II led local governments to adopt new practices as opposed to relying on activities already in place. We aim in this paper to identify the degree to which this mandate produced new activities, whether communities that adopted most of their stormwater BMPs prior to the Phase II planning deadline differ from those that adopted them in response to the mandate (after the deadline), and the possible links between innovation and stormwater management plan quality.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mboswell/7/