Prince George's County, Maryland Clean Water Partnership

The Prince George’s County, Maryland Clean Water Partnership (CWP) - between Prince George’s County and a private company, Corvias - began in 2014 intending to retrofit 2,000 acres of property with green infrastructure for stormwater management. As part of this process, both partners agreed that an emphasis on employing local, under-represented communities was necessary. Within the three-year period during which the project was completed, 66 businesses were contracted, almost 1,600 businesses were reached, and over 200,000 hours of work were generated. The project also blew past their goals for under-represented employment: target class participation was 40%, but actual participation was 87%; target participation of local businesses was 50%, but actual participation was 82%; targeted hours for local employment was 51%, but actual was 57%. In all, the program delivered on all 2,000 acres in half the time for half the price. Because of the success of the first project, the Clean Water Partnership between Prince George’s County and Corvias was extended 30 years for 4,000 acres with the same goals of hiring underrepresented community members as a requirement.

The relationship between Corvias and Prince George’s County began because county regulators were “faced with an enormous regulatory challenge in the management of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit,” which would require retrofits costing upwards of $100 million. A Community-Based Public-Private Partnership was developed, wherein Corvias was given the responsibility of managing through best practices including the design, construction, and maintenance of stormwater management and retrofitting throughout the project area through the use of small, minority and women-owned businesses.

The goals of the Clean Water Partnership are to streamline the costs that regulatory compliance projects traditionally placed on local governments, while simultaneously strengthening local economies. The program will not only recruit frontline community members and businesses, but will connect them with training in green infrastructure. Corvias will oversee the design, construction, and maintenance of the stormwater retrofits. Corvias is also responsible for the short- and long-term risk associated with construction and maintenance. In exchange, “Corvias receives compensation, and potentially incentive fees, based on performance goals, which include socioeconomic goals.” This compensation is funded through the County’s Clean Water Act Fee, as well as other sources, such as “public bonds, private activity bonds, private investments, utility [fees], or grant [programs].”

The creation and continued success of the CWP project and relationship is based on four core guiding principles:

  1. Efficiency: the goal is to create projects and a resilient economy through holistic planning
  2. Social value creation: to focus on projects that encourage community resilience in green infrastructure and local, disadvantaged community members and businesses
  3. Long term sustainability: reduce costs for implementing green infrastructure design and construction
  4. Site flexibility: to have flexibility in the CWP’s planning approach that allows for flexibility when choosing sites for the project

“These processes allow the implementation team to select projects based on the greatest value to the program inclusive of acres treated and procurement opportunities tailored to the needs of local subcontractor capacity and capabilities.”

The initial pilot had various programs that assisted in furthering these guiding principles. One program focused on retrofitting existing buildings in the area for energy and resilience purposes. By the time the initial 2,000-acre project was completed, 15 churches, 22 schools, and 23 municipal properties had been retrofitted for energy efficiency. Additionally, over 250 trees and 6,000 shrubs were planted to improve stormwater management in the area. As a result, over 1.8 million pounds of sediment were removed. Education was also a significant focus of the pilot, and the continued CWP partnership. From a youth perspective, a collaborative effort between Prince George’s County School Public Schools and CWP established an educational program on the importance of resilience efforts and stormwater management. More than 15 local businesses participated in CWP’s Mentor Protégé Program, which focuses on educating local minority businesses on stormwater management and resilient infrastructure, and helps to develop both within the participating firms through coaching, training, access to bidding opportunities, and other supportive services.

In order to ensure that the partnership is effective, Prince George’s County government and Corvias will jointly assess the success of the partnership on a regular basis. Successes in efficiency and cost reductions will be determined by comparing the costs and timeline associated with Corvias’s green infrastructure retrofit process and the process previously employed by Prince George's County.

In all, CWP has accomplished its goals thus far because of the close relationship that the partnership built with the local community through outreach. As a result, other cities across the country, including Chester, Pennsylvania, are attempting to replicate this community-based public-private partnership approach to stormwater management.

 

Publication Date: January 1, 2014

Related Organizations:

  • Corvias Solutions
  • Prince George’s County Department of the Environment

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