Incentive-Based Land Use Policies and Water Quality in the Chesapeake Bay
Abstract The activities conducted on land surrounding the Chesapeake Bay directly affect pollution levels in the Bay, and they do so in complex and varied ways. Policy attention has been focused, for the most part, on modifying these activities within a particular land use category but not on wholesale changes in land use. For example, farmers are encouraged to use “best management practices” (BMPs) that focus on fertilizer use, crop covers, and the like; residential and commercial developers are encouraged to manage stormwater runoff; and wastewater treatment plants are required to meet technology-based standards. But the amount of land in urbanized uses relative to the amount in farming, forestry, and open space has not been given the attention it deserves. In this paper, we discuss the ways that land use affects pollution in the Bay. We then analyze three economic incentive-based policies that could be used to alter land use patterns—purchase of development rights (PDRs), transferable development rights (TDRs), and development impact fees. The strengths and weaknesses of each policy are discussed. Finally, we discuss the issue of policy coordination, i.e., synchronizing policies focused directly on land use, such as TDRs, with input-based taxes. More research on this important policy issue is needed.
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