WAY is a coalition of stakeholders being innovative leaders encouraging watershed-based planning, restoration and protection in York County, Pennsylvania, and beyond.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

York County WIP – Criteria for Evaluating Solutions

Cost versus effectiveness is the ultimate bottom line when considering solutions; how to get the proverbial “biggest bang for the buck.” The effectiveness of each solution would be based upon the size of the pollutant load that is cleaned up by a particular remedy and the time it takes to accomplish it. The catch is that many factors come into play when calculating both the “bang” and the “buck.”

Among the factors are geographic considerations, such as outfall location, headwater areas and confluences. In addition to location within the watershed, environmental factors, such as soils, geology, impaired streams (see Appendix B) and species of concern; operation/maintenance; and sustainability need to be analyzed when contemplating the most effective solution to reduce nutrient/sediment pollution. The cost of implementing the solution also needs to be considered, in conjunction with effectiveness, to ensure practicality, as well as getting the most pollutant reduction for each dollar spent. At times, site restraints may prevent the use of the most effective and/or the least expensive solution. Among the common restraints are location of solutions, pollutant sources, population centers, types of land use, landowners, and funding sources.

When calculating financial costs for a particular solution, the achievement of multiple objectives should likewise be considered. York County has many plans, assessments, and reports concerning the County’s water resources, all with recommendations, goals, and objectives. For example, if a particular pollutant reduction solution also reduces an environmental hazard and/or provides an identified recreational need, achievement of multiple benefits may turn an otherwise economically impractical solution into the most cost effective remedy. Established TMDLs, Watershed/Rivers Conservation Plans, MS4 permits, County land preservation programs, and County/municipal comprehensive plans are some examples of environmental planning efforts throughout the County that should be consulted when establishing project priorities for this Plan.

The criteria presented above for evaluating solutions can be summarized as follows:

  • Pollutant source/type
  • Target impaired waters
  • BMP efficiency (cost/benefit)
  • Secondary benefits
  • Cooperative partners
  • Public vs. private projects
  • MS4 compatibility
  • Funding availability