Most of us concerned with funding stormwater programs probably agree that stormwater fees are a practical and equitable way to generate money—and we’re also familiar with the many objections that businesses and property owners raise when those fees are put in place.
The predicament of a landowner in Washington state is currently breeding a lot of sympathy—not only from fellow property owners but also from the mayor of the town that’s charging him a fee. His story exemplifies the ways things can get out of hand and how one incident can stir up anti-fee sentiments among the public.
Joel Clark owns a five-acre lot in the town of Easton and, up until a few months ago, had been paying a $41 stormwater monthly fee. In January, he opened his bill to find the rate had increased to $771 a month.
Easton, like many other cities, bases its fee on the amount of impervious surface on a parcel of land; it uses aerial photos to gauge the surface area. (Another—usually simpler but less accurate—way to determine fees is to charge a flat rate for a single-family home or for a certain size lot.)
Clark’s lot is not paved or covered with concrete, but most of it is covered with gravel suitable for parking a variety of vehicles. The city maintains, after a recent review of its photos, that the hard-packed gravel counts as impervious in figuring the fee. The only impervious surface the city previously considered was the roof of the lot’s one building. Clark appealed the ruling but lost; Easton’s public works director says that the county stormwater manual, which the city has adopted, classifies the gravel as impervious and the city has no choice in the fee increase.
To make matters worse for Clark, he’ll now be getting some additional bills for other lots he owns that do not receive utility services. Because Easton’s stormwater billing system is tied to its utility fees, the city had overlooked those other lots, but became aware of them during his appeal.
If your program charges a stormwater fee, how is it determined—and how have you handled any objections you’ve received?
Upcoming Forester University Webinars
April 12th, 2012
Water Auditing 101
Reduce your water waste and cost! Join Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC to explore the key attributes, uses, and efficiency/cost opportunities of water audits. Aichele will lead a discussion of what a water audit includes, who performs the audit, where and when they should and can be performed, and the opportunities that exist in performing a water audit. Join us and gain an understanding of the potential savings possible, rebates available, and how quickly this unobtrusive work can be implemented from audit to installation to optimize your water use and minimize your cost. Read more...
April 18th, - May 25th, 2012
Sediment and Erosion Control
Master Class Series
Join industry expert and bestselling author Jerald S. Fifield, Ph.D., CISEC, CPESC and Tina R. Evans, PE, CISEC for a comprehensive 6-part online master class and workshop series (0.9 CEUs / 9 PDHs) exploring the ins and outs of effective sediment and erosion control plan design and review based on Fifield’s recently released 3rd edition of the bestselling manual Designing and Reviewing Effective Sediment and Erosion Control Plans (included in your Master Class Series package).
April 26 th, 2012
BMP Nutrient Sources and Transformations -
How to Optimize Nutrient Removal in SCMs
Are your Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) effectively removing nitrogen and phosphorus from runoff? Join Bill Lucas to explore how to select and design SCMs to improve nitrogen and phosphorus retention. After an overview of nitrogen and phosphorous forms, sources, and transformations, Lucas will discuss how nitrogen and phosphorus transformations can be optimized in SCMs; how to select and design SCMs for settings; and how to tailor these programs to meet TMDL requirements more cost effectively.