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Urbanization, Water Quality, and the Regulated Landscape

Dave Owen

University of Maine - School of Law

April 2011

University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 2, 2011

Watershed scientists frequently describe urbanization as a primary cause of water quality degradation, and recent studies conclude that even in lightly-developed watersheds, urbanization often precludes attainment of water quality standards. This article considers legal responses to this pervasive problem. It explains why traditional legal measures have been ineffective, and it evaluates several recent innovations piloted in the northeastern United States and potentially applicable across the nation. Specifically, the innovations involve using impervious cover TMDLs, residual designation authority, and collective permitting. More generally, the innovations involve transferring regulatory focus from end-of-the-pipe to landscape-based controls. I conclude that the innovations, while raising some new problems, represent a promising shift, and it discuss additional reforms and research needed to better reconcile legal water quality standards and traditional land development patterns.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 74

Keywords: urbanization, water quality, impervious cover, TMDLs, residual designation authority, watershed-based permitting, federalism

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Date posted: March 4, 2010 ; Last revised: March 2, 2012

Suggested Citation

Owen, Dave, Urbanization, Water Quality, and the Regulated Landscape (April 2011). University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 2, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1563467 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1563467

Contact Information

Dave Owen (Contact Author)
University of Maine - School of Law ( email )
246 Deering Avenue
Portland, ME 04102
United States
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