How to tap into the StormStore™ stormwater market in Cook County - Metropolitan Planning Council

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How to tap into the StormStore™ stormwater market in Cook County

Metropolitan Planning Council via Ryan Wilson

A nature-based stormwater facility integrated into a campus redevelopment.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDvoted in May to amend their Watershed Management Ordinance (WMO) for Cook County, which protects property, communities, and waterways by guiding how developers in Cook manage rain that falls on their properties. That same month, Chicago and Illinois tallied the highest recorded monthly rainfall on record. The amendment was timely and groundbreaking: First, it codified rainfall data from “Bulletin 75: Precipitation Frequency in Illinois,” a recently produced report showing we are experiencing more frequent, severe storms. Second, the amendment enabled five-year pilot programStormStore, a partnership between MPC and The Nature Conservancy—to accelerate the construction of infrastructure to address urban flooding in the hardest hit parts of Cook County 

“With all the rain in May, we’re getting complaints...,” “With this slow-down in the economy, StormStore™ could help us fund part of our project...,” or “We’d like to add something green for our community and have extra space, but no money...”

On July 7, MPC and The Nature Conservancy hosted a webinar to publicly unveil StormStore, a stormwater market for our region that’s been in the works for nearly eight years. Together, the updated ordinance and StormStore now allow developers in two of the County’s seven Watershed Planning Areas to pursue more flexible, cost-effective strategies to meet stormwater management requirements. Communities will also benefit from more nature-based stormwater management projects that come online faster and where they are needed most. Since the launch of StormStore, we've been inundated with interested parties. Familiar lead-ins to these conversations include:

With all the rain in May, we’re getting complaints...,” With this slow-down in the economy, StormStore™ could help us fund part of our project..., or “We’d like to add something green for our community and have extra space, but no money...” In response to each of these comments, we see the opportunity for StormStore™ to be part of your solution. That solution may look different in each community, and at every project site. 

Read on to learn more about how you might get involved with StormStore, whether you’re a property owner, resident of a flood-prone area, or real estate developer 

Property owners 

If you are a property owner or represent a municipality with land holdings in the Lower Des Plaines River Watershed or the Little Calumet River Watershedwith StormStore you may now be able to develop your land in a way that generates income by constructing new stormwater volume capacity, or credits, for purchase in our pilot stormwater market.  

StormStore is an opportunity for you to be a leader in your community

How can you take advantage of this opportunity? First, you will need to determine whether your property is a good candidate for participation. To get started, your project must be 1) in one of the two eligible watersheds, 2) qualify to be permitted through the Watershed Management Permit process, and 3) have the on-site capability to generate excess capacity for stormwater detention and volume control. The best projects will incorporate nature-based green infrastructure—such as rain gardens, permeable pavers, and swales—and provide additional benefits to your local community, such as beautification or open space.  

While the project must meet these minimum thresholds, the type of development at your project site can be wide-ranging. You may incorporate credit-generating management as a raingarden in an affordable housing or schoolyard, or permeable parking with stormwater tree planters to replace the parking at your hospital or community college. Municipalities and transit agencies will be eligible to generate credits on projects within the public right-of-way. StormStore is an opportunity for you to be a leader in your community by threading together economic development, stormwater management, and improved public assets such as parks and public spaces to provide the greatest community benefit. 


Residents of flood-prone areas 

If you live in an area that is prone to flooding during rain storms, you, too, may be able to take advantage of StormStoreYou don’t have to be an industrial property owner or work for your villageAs a resident, you can play an important role in this marketplace, bringing local knowledge about where problematic flooding is occurring, educating public officials about StormStore, and even organizing within your neighborhood or community to develop a community stormwater management project. As identified by the U.S. Water Alliance’s recent report, “Water Rising: Equitable Approaches to Urban Flooding,” communities benefit when residents and utilities—and I’d add developers — work together to solve local flooding problems.  

StormStore is an opportunity for you to take the lead on new, creative ways to solve local flooding problems and drive investment in your community

What could a StormStore project look like in your community? As with the example of the property owner above, your community’s project can take many shapes and sizes, but there are a few basic criteria: Each project must be able to manage rainwater where it falls, and be large enough to exceed the requirements of the WMO permitting process. Some project types that come to mind are de-paving the parking lot of your neighborhood school and adding nature-based solutions, or working with a landbank or local land trust to convert vacant parcels into a community park that also manages stormwater.  

If you have an idea for a StormStore project in your community, please reach out to our team. 

Email me at Rwilson@metroplanning.org or call (312) 863-6018. 

We are eager to support the communities and residents who are eager to solve their local flooding problems. StormStore is an opportunity for you to take the lead on new, creative ways to solve local flooding problems and drive investment in your community. 


Real estate developers 

If you are a real estate developer in the eligible watersheds, you now have the flexibility to meet a portion of your stormwater management requirements offsite by purchasing capacity that has been built on another site within your watershed. StormStore is an opportunity for you to lower the cost of doing the right thing. 

How does this work? First, you will need to determine how much stormwater volume from your project site is allowed to be managed at an offsite location. If your development team does not have this capacity to determine this volume, many local stormwater engineers or environmental planners can perform these calculations for you. You’ll want to estimate two numbers early in your planning process: one, a volume of stormwater that is eligible to be detained offsite, and two, the volume of stormwater eligible to be controlled offsite.  

Next, you will want to identify a project site within your watershed that has the capacity to supply one or both of these volumes. This is where our StormStore team can really help you out. We're working with developers of “supply” projects who are building the offsite capacity you may use to meet your permit compliance requirements. As of July 2020, no permitted projects are yet available, but we know of already constructed projects expected to come onto the market in the coming months. Contact us today to learn more, and to find out how to connect with projects that can help you. 


Get in touch with the StormStore team 

If you see yourself in any of these examples or have questions about how to get started, please reach out. Let us know if you represent a municipality, landowner, developer, or consultant, or simply are interested in seeing StormStore in your community. 

Email me at Rwilson@metroplanning.org or call (312) 863-6018. 

Today, StormStore is shaping how buyers and sellers will connect with each other through our emergent marketplace. In the near future, we will have an accessible, centralized marketplace that can support all of your credit trading needs, whether you’re a resident seeking benefit for your community, a municipality seeking to build capacity to manage urban flooding, or a developer trying to build on a constrained site. There’s still much work to be done to ensure the StormStore marketplace is accessible, equitable, and builds resilience and capacity in communities where is most needed. We look forward to working with you and many partners to make it happen.

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