2003: Stormwater Utility Fees: Finding Funding for Stormwater Management

Taylor Valdes (Economics) Lewis and Clark College

Without controlling and reducing nonpoint source water pollution (runoff), the United States cannot meet the water quality standards prescribed in the Clean Water Act. Difficulty raising money to cover the high costs of constructing and maintaining ditches, retention ponds, stormwater pipes, and water treatment facilities, is the principal reason why cities and counties across the country are reluctant to address the problem of nonpoint source water pollution. One new way some municipalities have chosen to raise funds for water quality management and flood protection projects has been by establishing fee-supported Stormwater Utilities. Stormwater utilities work like most other utilities- charging property owners a monthly fee in exchange for providing a service. The service provided by a Stormwater Utility is stormwater management and flood protection. Fee prices are determined according to how much runoff a given property produces.

My research explored the possibility of creating a Stormwater Utility in James City County. Two hundred randomly selected houses in 3 neighborhoods in the county were given surveys to gauge residents' awareness of water quality issues and their preferences for stormwater management. Results showed that although most citizens were aware and concerned about the effects of runoff on local water bodies, they were reluctant to pay a monthly stormwater fee priced higher than $2.50 per month. In addition, less than 40% of residents were willing to actively reduce the amount of runoff produced on their property by installing rain barrels or rain gardens to retain excess stormwater.

For additional documentation Taylor Valdés provided a PowerPoint Presentation entitled "Stormwater Utility Fees: Finding Funding for Stormwater Management" provided here in PDF form.