Alternative Approaches Emerging To Stormwater Challenges

Governing Managzine this week featured discussion of different approaches to stormwater management issues in nearby states. From their article:

Communities will never be able to afford the tens of millions of dollars it takes to build conventional “gray infrastructure” to contain and treat stormwater overflows. As a result, many cities have installed green alternatives around parks and public buildings. About 400 cities, towns and utility districts now base stormwater fees on the percentage of impervious area, and some offer partial discounts for installing green infrastructure. But Philadelphia has upped the ante in a way no other city has: It grants a full 100 percent credit against monthly bills to commercial customers to offset the cost of investing in structures capable of retaining one inch of rain onsite.

This summer, the water department will distribute $5 million in grants as seed money for businesses and community organizations to install green projects that will generate stormwater fee credits “that help people get their bills down,” says Erin Williams, a city stormwater engineer. Applicants have asked for amounts that range from $40,000 for a charter school rain garden to $2.5 million to retain rainfall at a new mall near Philadelphia’s sports stadiums. Once the market is established, Natural Resources Defense Council financial analyst Alisa Valderrama thinks investors will be willing to raise as much $376 million in private financing in Philadelphia alone for converting barren lands into water-storing assets.

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Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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