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Stormwater Strategies
Community Responses to Runoff Pollution


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Chapter 1

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Increasingly, communities across the nation have found strategies to prevent, control and treat urban and suburban stormwater pollution that are effective, economically advantageous, and that can provide collateral benefits to the community. NRDC's research and its information on actual programs, presented in over 100 case studies, documents and demonstrates these successes. The programs and strategies highlighted come from communities of all sizes, types, and regions. They include efforts by municipal agencies, developers, and community groups. In many cases, several of these groups worked together to create win-win outcomes. NRDC commends those communities that have accepted the challenge of a new issue and have responded creatively and effectively.

Individually, the case studies provide detailed examples of substantial water quality improvement, effective or innovative stormwater control strategies to protect the natural environment, significant cost-savings, and important ancillary benefits to the community. They achieved success using a variety of strategies that addressed stormwater in new developments and redevelopments, promoted public education and participation, controlled construction site runoff, detected and eliminated improper or illegal discharges and connections to the storm sewer system, and implemented pollution prevention measures for municipal operations. Their specific successes are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 5. Table 1-1 summarizes the highlights from the case studies. In this chapter, NRDC summarizes the major themes derived from the case studies and background research followed by a set of recommended local actions for addressing stormwater runoff.


The Foundation of Success

Collectively, the case studies present a clear model for success. NRDC distilled the common elements among the highlighted programs into the following broad themes. Since they are based on actual programs, these themes serve as an excellent guidance for communities as they begin or continue to address stormwater issues. NRDC found that when followed, these themes formed a solid foundation for successful programs.


Preventing Pollution is Highly Effective and Saves Money

The case studies demonstrate that the range of measures known as "pollution prevention" dramatically and cost-effectively reduce the quantity and concentration of pollutants winding up in stormwater. While the rain cannot be controlled, its stormwater impacts can, to a large degree, be managed. Management, planning, development design, or material substitution or reduction that incorporates stormwater pollution prevention before an activity takes place, are almost always the most effective and cost-effective means to reducing stormwater pollution. However, in already highly urbanized areas, such measures may not be possible. In such cases, several communities have found treatment of runoff with structural measures to be an effective alternative.


Preserving and Utilizing Natural Features and Processes Have Many Benefits

Many communities and developers found management measures that rely on natural processes to be highly effective and efficient. Undeveloped landscapes absorb large quantities of rainfall and snowmelt; vegetation helps to filter out pollutants from stormwater. These communities have benefited from implementing environmentally friendly alternative site design or "greenfrastructure" by saving money and optimizing open space. Buffer zones, conservation-designed development, sensitive area protection, or encouragement of infill development all try to enhance natural processes and are among the most effective stormwater programs highlighted.


Strong Incentives, Routine Monitoring, and Consistent Enforcement Establishes Accountability

The case studies demonstrate that enforcement, or more broadly accountability, is a key element to improving water quality. Routine monitoring and inspection, periodic audits, clear standards of performance, as well as strong incentives and disincentives to address stormwater are all effective ways to promote accountability. The case studies demonstrate that programs with high accountability often reduce pollutant loadings by 50 percent or greater.


Establishing a Dedicated Source of Funding Ensures Long-Term Viability of Programs and Public Support

The case studies found that effective stormwater programs are financially viable and affordable. Low-cost and cost-effective programs and stormwater management measures can be found around the country. Dedicated funding sources, such as stormwater utilities or dedicated environmental fees, help ensure that stormwater programs are stable over time and help gain public support. Creative staffing, public-public and public-private collaboration, and building off existing programs are all budget-saving measures found in the case studies.


Strong Leadership is Often a Catalyst For Success

Many times, success, at least at first, requires an individual to champion the project and make it happen. Often that person is motivated by other concerns as well as water quality. Several of the case studies highlight a particular individual or group that initiated an innovative strategy or encouraged a particular approach. In many cases, leadership and persistence may be all a community needs to get moving in the right direction.


Effective Administration is Critical

Regardless of which strategies a community chooses, those with clear goals and objectives were most successful. Such clarity enhances accountability, responsibility, and trust. Furthermore, an established and understood institutional framework often improved administration by fostering collaboration among different parts and levels of government, neighboring communities, and local citizens. Effective administration allows implementation of broad-based, multi-faceted programs, which these studies suggest are often the most effective at controlling the diffuse problem of stormwater pollution. By taking this approach, many communities were able to achieve multiple goals, creating win-win situations.


Recommendations For Local Action

In the most simple terms, the case studies demonstrate two sides of the same coin: almost everything has an impact on stormwater pollution and stormwater pollution prevention measures work.

In somewhat more detail, the case studies also demonstrate the importance of certain steps in addressing stormwater pollution. Looking deeper into the case studies, NRDC extracted a set of recommended actions, or goals, for communities to consider when planning, implementing, or improving stormwater programs. These key actions cut across the broader themes presented above and when considered together, build a strong framework for effective, efficient, and successful stormwater management over the long-term. NRDC recommends that these actions, which appear throughout the case studies, be considered in all phases and components of stormwater programs.


Plan in Advance and Set Clear Goals

Communities should carefully plan programs as opposed to simply reacting to provided opportunities, crises, or transient pressure. Planning allows development of more effective and cost-effective actions. An essential outcome of this planning is to address the issues and concerns of all stakeholders involved. This planning does not require large staffs or extensive technology.


Encourage and Facilitate Broad Participation

Programs should involve multiple levels of government, key members of the community, and professionals from a variety of related disciplines in the planning and program development process. Municipalities should include all key stakeholders in overall growth plans, individual site development, education efforts, and construction programs.


Work to Prevent Pollution First; Rely on Structural Treatment Only When Necessary

Communities should focus on prevention-based approaches, through regional and watershed planning, local zoning ordinances, preservation of natural areas, stormwater-sensitive site design, widespread compliance with dumping and connection prohibitions, erosion prevention, and broad-based education as it is significantly more effective than treatment of polluted runoff. In areas already highly urbanized, structural treatment measures may need to be considered.


Establish and Maintain Accountability

All actors -- local governments, developers, construction contractors, local industry, and local citizens -- need a clear statement of what performance level they are to accomplish and need to be held by all the others to accomplish it. Local officials should facilitate this process by setting clear standards, creating incentives, conducting routine monitoring, promoting public availability of stormwater plans and permits, and consistently and strongly enforcing laws and regulations. Innovative strategies and approaches should be considered and encouraged, making administrative adjustments where necessary. While programs need to be comprehensive, strong enforcement is often key to significant water quality improvements.


Create a Dedicated Funding Source

A stable funding source is critical to program success and community support. Stormwater fees have proven effective and popular for paying for necessary measures without political or community resistance. We recommend that communities consider a stormwater utility as a dedicated and equitable funding source.


Tailor Strategies to the Region and Setting

Recognizing that every case will be different, municipalities should consider strategies that are particularly tailored to the region, the specific audience, and the problem. However, the basic framework of effective strategies often follow similar outlines as demonstrated in the case studies.


Build Broad-Based Programs

Municipalities should include and encourage planning education, public participation, regulation, monitoring, and enforcement in stormwater programs. Key to this outcome is the public's understanding of the issue, how it relates to them, and what they can do about it. Communities should look for public-public and private-public collaboration opportunities.


Evaluate and Allow for Evolution of Programs

Municipalities should set clear goals and priorities, and allow their programs to develop over time. Stormwater management is an iterative process and programs do not end with implementation of the first measures. Programs need to evolve as new issues arise, new technologies and strategies are developed, and the community or watershed changes. Checking to see that goals and objectives are being met opens opportunities for improvement and helps ensure long-term success.


Recognize the Importance of Associated Community Benefits

Communities and local officials should recognize that stormwater pollution prevention measures usually offer ancillary quality-of-life benefits as well. Preserved areas offer parks, ponds offer beauty and habitat, clean streets are more attractive, education helps empower people, sediment control improves fisheries and prevents flooding. Conversely, most every-day municipal actions have stormwater ramifications.




TABLE 1-1
Case Study Summaries
Project Location Summary Project Type Strategies Highlighted Population Area
(ml2)
NORTHEAST
Boston Metropolitan Area, MAPreserving wetlands protects flooding 10 percent at the cost of structural measures, and increases property values as wellA• Wetland and natural feature protection
• Land aquisition
2,870,6691,760
Boston Metropolitan, Area, MAAlthough originally spurred on by EPA, local communities see the results of, and come to value, an illicit discharge elimination program.D• Enforcement
• Required sampling
• Public information
• Watershed focus
• Volunteer Monitoring
2,870,6691,760
Connecticut
(Department of Transportation)
Redesigning salt storage facilities, improving salt handling practices, and reducing the amount of herbicide use in road maintenance reduces the potential for water pollution and saves money.E• Salt storage
• Salt handling
• Herbicide reduction
3,269,8584,845
Delaware (Delaware Nature Society)A local environmental organization trains citizens to help spot construction site erosion and sediment control violations and provides incentives to local developers to implement strong erosion control practices.B• Citizen monitoring
• Incentives for developers
731,5811,955
Delaware
(Department of Natural Resources and Envrionmental Control)
Delaware's private inspector program helps construction operators keep mud on site, while saving taxpayerdollars.C• Developer education and training
• Privately employed inspectors
731,5811,955
Dover, DEBeautiful, effective commercial-site wetlands do not have to be budget-bustersA• Detention pond retrofit
• Constructed wetlands
27,63021
Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, MDA wetland restoration Project
Type forms the linchpin for largely natural restoration of a highly degraded urban stream.
A• Dry pond retrofitted into wet pond
• Biorestoration
826,766
770,633
495
486
New York City, NYA water-based program to find illegal discharges, combined with a firm enforcement policy cost- effectively reduces pollution and helps achieve standards.D• Water-based monitoring
• Enforcement
• Video-taping
• Dye testing
8,546,8461,148
New York City, NYCatchbasin hoods prove to be a cost-effective way to remove three quarters of floatable garbage from street runoff.E• Education
• Litter surveys
• Stormwater inlet structures
8,546,8461,148
Prince George's County, MDA county-sponsored low-impact development program costs developers no more to build but sells houses better and reduces most pollution.B• Low impact development
• Bioretention
• Environmentally sensitive design
770,633486
Staten Island, NYA combination of city-initiated natural and structural control measures along with strong local involvement, resulted in a cost-effective and environmentally sound solution to excessive flooding and water pollution problems.A• Natural feature protection
• Land aquisition
• Natural drainage system
• Settling ponds
• Sand filters
402,372474
Vermont (Agency of Transportation)New salting technology saves millions of dollars and reduces salt use by almost 30 percent.E• Infrared sensors monitor temperature to determine588,9789,249
Washington, DC (National Arboretum)Integrated pest management saves money and reduces traditional pesticide use by 75 percent.E• Pesticide reduction
• Nutrient management
• Reduced mowing
• Public education
528,96461
Waterford, CT and Connecticut
Cooperative Extension Service
A state university-based education program successfully teaches local officials about imperviousness through local mapping and modeling.B• GIS-based education
• Educating local officials
• Linking water quality and land use
18,500
(3,269,858)
34
(4,845)
SOUTHEAST
Alexandria, VAAggressively identifying opportunities for urban retrofits resulted in win-win situations for developers and the public.A• Urban retrofits
• Developer colaboration
115,00016
Arlington County, VADeveloping paper and computer maps of a storm sewer system with existing data sources, interns, and some extra time saves money and allows effective spill response.D• Comprehensive mapping
• Outfall sampling
• GIS
172,58026
Brevard County, FLAn innovative BMP retrofit solves cost and land availability issues.A• Baffle Boxes460,9771,019
Cobb County, GAExceptions to existing site development regulations allow for more environmentally sensitive development that reduces impervious cover and appeals to home buyers.A• Better site design
• Reduced impervious cover
• Construction BMPs
551,059340
Charlotte, NCEarly stormwater education forms community and political support for more comprehensive stormwater program.B• Telephone survey
• Stakeholder task force
• Advertisement campaign
• Workshops
• Citizen hotline
395,934174
Charlotte, NCFrequent inspections backed by enforcement get compliance with construction sediment rules.C• Contractor education
• Site inspections
• Enforcement
• Complaint hotline
395,934174
Chattanooga, TNAttention to both education and enforcement makes an erosion control program for construction sites more effective.C• Erosion control requirements
• Contractor education
• Enforcement
• Maintenance requirements
152,466118
Chattanooga, TNCooperative effort with a local university and industry reduced costs of monitoring for illicit connections and reduced illegal discharges.D• Student monitoring and sampling
• Facility pollution prevention plans
• Education
152,466118
Florida (Cooperative Extension Service)Gardening education by local university cuts down chemical use dramatically.B• Alternative landscape design
• Water conservation
• IPM
• Recycling yard waste
• Participant surveys
• Fertilizer and pesticide reduction
14,653,94553,997
Fort Bragg, NCA well-designed facility saves 20 percent of the costs and provides cleaner water and better habitat.A• Reduced impervious cover
• Natural drainage
• Reduced site disturbance
34,74419
Hillsborough County, FLEven a smaller residential subdivision incorporated into an established suburb can provide stormwater control and wildlife habitat, and generate a healthy profit.A• Better site design
• Stormwater ponds and swales
• Tree preservation
• Xeriscaping™
834,0541,051
Oakland Park, FLAn in-line BMP effectively removes oil, grease, and floatables from runoff in a commercial area.A• Oil sorbant materials
• Inline pollutant removal
26,3266.4
Orlando, FLA multifaceted stormwater program, funded by a utility, gains community support and restores area lakes.E• Street sweeping
• Lake revegetation
• Detention ponds
• Pollution control devices
• Packed bed filter
164,69367
Prince William County, VAA strong education campaign directed to the public and local decision makers allows passage of a stormwater utility.B• Workshops
• Public presentations
254,464338
Prince William County, VA (Virginia Cooperative Extension)An innovative gardener education program reduces nitrogen fertilizer use by 20 tons.B• Gardener education
• Demonstration lawns
• Participant survey
254,464338
Springfield, TNEco-sensitive golf course design and operation reduces pesticide and fertilizer use, provides habitat, and treats stormwater from an extended area.E• Natural buffers
• IPM
• Stormwater ponds
11,2277
CENTRAL SOUTHWEST
Aurora, COInnovative stream restoration reduces nutrient and sediment loads to a local lake as well as provides a beautiful recreation area.A• Streambank stabilization
• Biofiltration
• Detention
• Infiltration
255,00133
Austin, TXConverting a dry detention facility to a series of ecologically designed wet ponds creates a popular amenity while significantly reducing stormwater pollution and flooding.A• Wet pond
• Infill development
• Retrofit
465,622218
Austin, TXExtensive monitoring with federal, academic, and stormwater utility support provides data useful for designing a very broad stormwater program and is helpful to many other cities.E• Stormwater monitoring
• BMP evaluation
465,622218
Boulder, COschool group activities, neighborhood cleanups, and interpretive signs in a popular park demonstratively increases awareness of and support for stormwater management.B• Youth education
• Volunteer monitoring
• Public information sites
• Public workshops and Program
• Stormdrain stenciling
95,00023
Fort Worth, TXEducation about insecticides, using a variety of messages, successfully cleans runoff, saving the city costly fines or treatment.B• Toxicity testing
• Homeowner education
• Telephone survey and focus groups
• Researching and promoting alternatives
490,500281
Fort Worth, TXDevelopment of a field screening methodology allows effective targeting of an effort to eliminate illegal discharges.D• Storm drain rating index
• Dry weather field screening
• Illegal spill investigations
• Environmental fee
490,500281
Garland, TXAn appropriate balance between outreach and enforcement is key to an effective construction runoff program.C• BMP manual
• Contractor education and training
• Inspection
• Enforcement
180,65057
Jefferson County, COA teacher's vision, some financial support, and a lot of student after-school hours turns a vacant school parking lot into a stormwater treatment system and outdoor classroom.E• Constructed wetlands
• Outdoor classroom
• Student involvement
496,656772
The Woodlands, TXUse of natural drainage and careful attention to soil types saves money, avoids flooding, and creates a more attractive community.A• Better site design
• Natural drainage system
258,1271,044
Texas (Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission)Education about composting of yard waste through "master composters" effectively changed citizen and local government practices, improved water quality, and saved landfilling costs.B• Composting
• Public education
• Demonstration programs
• Survey research
19,439,337261,914
Tulsa, OKWell-educated inspectors form the backbone of an aggressive enforcement effort.C• Inspections
• Informational programs
• Erosion prevention and stormwater requirements
367,302184
Tulsa, OKA broad-based effort to eliminate illegal discharges, through inspections, education, citizen tips, enforcement, and making legal disposal of certain wastes easier helped measurably reduced stormwater pollution at a low cost.D• System inspection
• Dry weather field screening
• Public outreach
• Floatables reduction
• Community involvement
367,302184
NORTHERN ROCKIES AND PACIFIC SOUTHWEST
Alameda County, CAMunicipalities that band together to create a consistent area -wide advertising program can educate people about stormwater problems more effectively and at a lower cost.B• Mass media advertising campaign
• Stormdrain stenciling
• Survey research
1,371,067738
Canyonlands
National Park, UT
As simple a change as interrupted curbs reduces erosion, enhances aesthetics, and saves money.A• Parking lot stormwater management
• Erosion prevention
N/A528
Davis, CAConservation design increased natural infiltration, reduced runoff, and created an attractive place to live while providing developers with a desirable return.A• Better site design
• Natural drainage system
46,2098.4
Fremont, CA
(Alameda County)
Studies show that constructed wetlands are an effective urban stormwater quality control measure.A• Constructed wetland
• BMP monitoring
173,339
(1,371,067)
77
(738)
Fresno, CAA regional network of infiltration facilities solves not only local stormwater problems, but regional flooding and groundwater problems as well.A• Infiltration system
• Recreational benefits
• Flood control
354,20299
Kootenai County, IDA comprehensive approach to erosion control and stormwater management, together with aggressive enforcement, protects water resources and gains public support even in the face of some developer resistance.C• Construction site risk assessments
• Site disturbance plans
• Sensitive area protection
• Inspections and enforcement
98,7671,245
Montary, CAA local coalition saves money and increases awareness by using trained citixen volunteers to monitor and sample stormwater outfalls.B• Citizen volunteer monitoring
• Dry weather field screening
• Training and outreach
31,9547.6
Mountain View, CACreative urban redevelopment with a public transit focus reduces impervious cover and is a sound investment for the developer.A• Mixed-use development
Transportation focus
• Reduced impervious cover
67,46012
Palo Alto, CAPositive incentives, regular inspections, and helpful outreach are the key elements of productive efforts to reduce stormwater contaminant loadings from vehicle service facilities.D• Facility inspections
• Incentives for compliance
• BMP requirements
236,00024
Murry City, UTQuick thinking, creative foresight, and collaboration were the key to successful highway stormwater management and a string of associated economic and collateral benefits.E• Sediment basin
• Natural drainage system
• Link to open space and recreation
• Collaboration
31,2829.5
Reno, NVA combination of required stormwater measures and better maintenance practices keeps pesticides and fertilizers out of adjacent waterbodies.E• Pesticide reduction
• Buffer zones
133,85058
San Francisco Bay
Regional Water Quality Control Board
A commitment to education and enforcement helped change the construction site practices of developers and builders.C• Contractor education
• Enforcement
6,500,0007,000
PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Eugene, ORTaking an "outcome -based" approach to erosion prevention allows for flexibility while emphasizing water quality.C• "Outcome -based" program
• Contractor outreach and
• education
118,00038
Eugene, ORA well-received IPM program keeps city parks and recreation Area
(ml2)s beautiful while preventing pollution and saving money.
E• Turf management
• Pesticide and fertilizer reduction
118,00038
Kitsap County, WALow-tech BMPs collect runoff from charity car washes for proper discharge and provide for an educational opportunity for the whole community.B• Youth involvement
• Youth education and training
• Car wash BMPs
230,000396
Mason County, WABy identifying failing septic systems and requiring maintenance or repairs, an inspection program helps reopen valuable shellfish beds.D• Sanitary surveys
• Dye testing
• Incentives and enforcement
49,477961
Olympia, WAAn infiltration trench covered with a pervious parking surface virtually eliminated a nuisance flooding problem without reducing parking capacity.E• Infiltration
• Impervious cover reduction
• Porous pavement
39,07016
Portland, OR Adjustments to building requirements enable storm water conscious design that is attractive, educa ional, easy to maintain, and less expensive than conventional design.A• Better parking lot design
• Reduced impervious cover
• Biofiltration
437,3293,743
Portland Metropolitan Area, ORInnovative technology that uses composted leaves to treat runoff is a space-conscious way to improve water quality.A• Filter media BMP1,477,8953,743
Portland Metropolitan Area, ORDeveloping a comprehensive program that addresses illicit or improper discharges from industry, city bureaus, and other sources reduces pollutant loads.D• Dry weather monitoring
• Facility inspections
• Improved municipal operations
• Hotline
1,477,8953,743
Portland and Multnomah County, OR
Educating citizens about alternative gardening practices got people engaged in efforts to change their behavior and protect local waterbodies.B• Homeowner education
• Yard management
• Workshops
• Survey research
1,021,206560
Puget Sound Area, WASurvey research enabled officials to target their audience for education and design a better program that helped raise public awareness and change behavior.B• Mass-media campaign
• Survey research
2,500,0002,284
Washington
(Department of Transportation)
Putting the entire stormwater plan and all decision- making documents on the web invites the public to participate in and support previously hidden state actions.B• Public information on the Web4,866,69266,581
Washington
(Department of Transportation)
Providing training and certification improves attitudes toward and use of erosion control BMPs at highway construction sites.C• Certification
• Training
4,866,69266,581
MIDWEST
Cannon Township, MI
and Grand Valley
State University
Making septic system inspections a grade school project reduced resistance to inspection and doubles as an education program.B• Septic system inspection
• Youth education and
• involvement
• Dye testing
7,92836
Farmington, MNInitially conceived to avoid flooding and reduce costs, a surface waterway with natural features instead of subsurface storm drains has community and ecological benefits as well.A• Natural drainage system
• Neighborhood design
• Constructed wetlands and ponds
5,94012
Geauga County, OH
and St. Joseph
County, IN
Developers acting to prevent erosion on undeveloped lots reap higher profits than those who leave such lots bare.C• Lot valuation
• Site comparisons (with BMPs v. conventional)
• Survey research
87,913
258,056
404
457
Glen Ellyn, ILReducing pesticide use and preserving natural areas helps a pro-active golf course keep local rivers and streams cleaner.E• IPM
• Chemical reduction
• Stormwater detention
• Natural area preservation
• Community outreach
24,9446.2
Grayslake, ILStormwater-sensitive design that measurably reduces pollution, provides valued homeowner amenities, and provides the developer equal or better returns overcomes initial municipal skepticism and becomes county model.A• Stormwater treatment train™
• Conservation design
• Constructed wetlands
7,3884.1
Greene County, MOHaving and enforcing a county-wide ordinance defeats initial resistance and achieves both improved stormwater pollution prevention and enhanced water quality.C• Site plans
• Inspections
• Site bonds
• Sensitive area protection
225,577675
Louisville and
Jefferson Counrty, KY
Enlisting students has helped to map a storm sewer system, identify illegal discharges, and educate the community at a considerable savings over consultants.D• Student involvement
• Dry weather field screening
• Infrastructure inventory
700,000385
Madison, WITemporary parking restrictions allowing street sweepers to get to the curb more than doubles debris collected, reduces pollutants, and is cost-neutral.E• Street sweeping
• Survey research
201,00058
Minneapolis, MNA lawncare education program reduces stormwater concentrations of pesticides by over 60 percent on average.B• Lawn-care education
• Pesticide monitoring
• Master gardener program
368,38355
Rouge River
Watershed, MI
A watershed-based pollution management program, with flexibility and real delegation of authority to local stakeholder agencies, is a faster and more cost-effective restoration way to protect water resources.A• Watershed focus
• Community consensus
1,500,000438
Washtenaw County,
MI
An aggressive, multifaceted inspection effort reduced coliform levels by 77 percent and brought a river into compliance with standards.D• Site inspections
• Water quality monitoring
• Public education
• Spill response
299,503710
KEY
A   Addressing Stormwater in New Development and Redevelopment
B   Promoting Public Education and Participation
C   Controlling Construction Site Runoff
D   Detecting and Eliminating Improper or Illegal Connections and Discharges
E   Implementing Pollution Prevention for Municipal Operations

Source: Population figures obtained from www.census.gov 1990 census and 1996/1997/1998 estimates

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