The CMCOG Environmental Planning Program examines regional environmental issues such as air and water quality, open space preservation, sustainable energy and environmental justice. CMCOG is also involved with regulatory compliance activities related to Section 208 of the Clean Water Act (CWA); the Federal Clean Air Act; and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). In addition to these activities, CMCOG staff also provides a number of other environmental planning activities related to GIS/Mapping, local government technical support, wetlands mitigation, and comprehensive planning.
As the designated area wide planning agency for water quality, CMCOG is responsible for developing and maintaining a 208 Regional Water Quality Management Plan and determining whether or not wastewater facility construction projects and NPDES/ND permits are consistent with the goals and policies established in this plan. This 208 conformance review must be completed before DHEC will permit a project.
To submit a request for 208 conformance, mail the completed 208 Certification Form, along with a general location map and a $265.00 processing fee to Central Midlands Council of Governments, 236 Stoneridge Drive, Columbia, SC 29210.
CMCOG has recently completed a Green Infrastructure (GI)/Low Impact Development (LID) Toolkit for improving water quality. This document provides a primer on water quality planning, an introduction to various GI/LID programs, policies and site specific techniques, a survey of case studies, and model comprehensive plan and conservation subdivision language. This project was funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Grant.
Air quality is important to the Central Midlands quality of life. As the designated local air-quality planning agency under the federal Clean Air Act, CMCOG works with the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control (SCDHEC) to develop plans and programs that comply with federal Clean Air Act standards. Efforts are geared toward improving the quality of life in the Central Midlands by attaining and maintaining air quality standards in a cost-effective manner.
Air quality is important to our human and economic health. With the Midlands region threatened by “nonattainment” status, it has become paramount that proactive measures be taken for improving air quality and ensuring attainment with current and future national ambient air quality standards. This situation creates an ideal opportunity for the diverse stakeholders of the Midlands region to collaborate and formulate a regional action plan; hence, the development of the Midlands Air Quality Forum.
The Central Midlands Council of Governments (CMCOG) is committed to preserving open space in the Central Midlands Region. Open space can be defined as follows:
An undeveloped piece of land adding ecological, scenic or recreational value to an area. Examples include forests, marshes and wildlife sanctuaries. Open spaces can also include: agriculture, retention/detention areas and floodways and floodplains. Open space may be publicly or privately owned and maintained.
The goal of such a plan is to create a network of protected lands within the region that will be a legacy for future generations. Given the rapid pace of development within the region, particularly in Lexington and Richland Counties, the time is now to identify places needing protection. The reasons for this include rare plant/wildlife species, scenic/historic landscapes, or any other natural features that a community would deem worthy of preservation.
The CMCOG is taking the “green infrastructure” approach to creating an open space preservation plan. Green infrastructure is defined as an interconnected network of open spaces that conserves natural ecosystems and functions, and provides associated benefits to human populations. The keys to green infrastructure preservation are twofold: 1) identifying areas worthy of preservation in advance of development; and 2) linking these areas together, since a network of open spaces functions better as an ecological whole, rather than as separate open space “islands.” When linked together, these open spaces are able to function as an ecological whole, rather than as separate and unrelated parts. This enables them to better: 1) remove pollutants from the air; 2) carry and filter stormwater runoff; and 3) support diverse plant and wildlife species. A green infrastructure network normally consists of these three elements: hubs, linkages and sites.
The Environmental Protection Agency defines Environmental Justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” CMCOG is committed to achieving this goal for all communities within the Central Midlands region and works towards this end through implementation of the CMCOG/COATS Title VI plan which is based on the following principles of Environmental Justice:
Director, Research, Planning & Development