Creating vegetated buffers along rivers and bays is a widely recognized strategy to protect water quality while providing other services that benefit ecosystems and communities. After conducting a thorough assessment of options for advancing the use of buffers (see Buffer Options for the Bay), a team of public, academic, and nonprofit organizations identified a key need to help communities get regulatory credit for buffer restoration.
The Credit for Going Green project team worked with a panel of experts to generate science-based recommendations to calculate the pollutant removal rate of buffers in development, redevelopment, restoration, or other land use change projects. Communities can use this information to receive pollutant removal credits under permits issued by stormwater permit programs. The project has provided municipal staff and boards with the information and tools to better promote buffers as a way to protect water quality, while also enhancing habitat and protecting communities from flooding.