Facing the Challenges of a Stormwater Utility

Stormwater utility fees are coming….the ripple effect of the latest USEPA mandates for the Chesapeake Bay watershed is being felt throughout the Commonwealth. With these mandates and future more stringent state and federal regulations on the horizon, municipalities need a source of funding to develop programs and construct projects that control and reduce the volume and quality of stormwater runoff. The process of developing a stormwater utility program and fee structure is a long one, but, as in the City of Lynchburg, these are conversations that need to begin – and soon – with public education as the main focus. As the waves of stormwater regulations pick up speed and momentum, engaging the public early and throughout the program will pay dividends in the future, both politically and for the environment.

Storm Water Challenges Vex the City

By The News & Advance
Published: May 04, 2011

If you want some idea of the result when storm water is not controlled, you need only to take a close look at College Lake. Sediment from construction sites and other sources has reduced the lake’s size considerably over the years.

With no controls, the lake will fill up in the not-too-distant future, leaving only a creek running through the former body of water.

Managing stormwater runoff has become a critical part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to produce a cleaner Chesapeake Bay over the next 15 years. The idea is to gain better control of not only farmland runoff, but runoff in urban areas from roads, parking lots and lawns that wash oil, fertilizer and other pollutants into creeks and streams that feed the Bay.

Such management is an expensive proposition. City Council members learned earlier this year that controlling stormwater runoff could cost the city some $120 million between now and 2025.

Other communities in the Bay’s watershed, which includes virtually all of Central Virginia, will also have to start controlling and treating runoff more extensively.

But how will they pay for that? The subject came up a council meeting last week. It turns out that some council members are warming to the idea of a fee based on the size of individual property holdings. Such a storm water fee would cover the costs of controlling the runoff into creeks and streams that ultimately wind up in the James River and the Bay at Hampton Roads.

Read the full article here.