Integrating Stormwater Ecosystem Services into Local Governance: Content Analysis of Municipal Comprehensive Plans and Land Development Regulations in the Austin-San Antonio Corridor
Continued population growth in Texas drives urban development. Conventional development patterns typically produce large quantities of impervious surfaces that disrupt natural hydrological processes when it rains. Increased impervious surfaces tend to increase the volume and rate of stormwater runoff, leading to flooding conditions and decreasing stormwater quality as stormwater flows across urban surfaces and picks up pollutants. Precipitation events in urban areas thus provide opportunities for addressing quantity and quality issues of stormwater runoff at the local level through municipal planning and regulation. Ecosystem services related to stormwater (i.e., flood prevention, flood mitigation, and stormwater purification) have been recognized as valuable assets that provide irreplaceable services, but these invaluable services are not consistently recognized and incorporated into stormwater management systems in Texas municipalities. This study seeks to address whether cities in the Austin-San Antonio corridor, have political and legal frameworks established that enable the implementation of stormwater ecosystem services in current and future land development by examining comprehensive plans and land development regulations using content analysis.