Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2005

Keywords

stormwater, utility fee, tax, municipalities, climate change, NEEFC

Abstract

Stormwater utilities are a concept whose time seems to have arrived. Established by relatively few communities in the 1970s as a method of funding flood control measures, stormwater utilities now exist in over 400 municipalities and counties throughout the United States. During the next 10 years, their numbers are expected to swell dramatically – by one estimate to over 2,000 by the year 2014.

The reasons for this growth are multifold. Federal stormwater regulations passed in the 1980s (Phase I of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program, or NPDES), motivated many larger communities to seek alternative funding sources and organizational structures. And the Phase II NPDES requirements that now apply to smaller communities (21 in Maine) will be a driving force in the rapid growth of stormwater utilities during the next 10 years.

Federal requirements have provided the impetus for communities to reexamine funding alternatives, but the stormwater utility concept seems to be catching on quickly because it is a good one. While other options exist to General Fund support of stormwater programs, the utility approach has been identified in a number of analyses as the most equitable and effective approach to stormwater financing. As more and more communities establish stormwater utilities and sing their praises, this conclusion is being verified on the ground.