As the cost of stormwater management rises due to stricter regulations and pre-existing budget gaps, many municipalities are proposing implementing a stormwater fee system based on how much rainwater is chanelled off a given property. Proposals like these have already been adopted in Kitchener, ON, and Minneapolis, MN as well as various other cities and towns (just Google “cities with stormwater utility fee” and you’ll see all the results!).
These fees represent significant expenses for business and property owners, and everyone is understandably concerned about pursuing economical solutions to reduce the amount of impervious surfaces or, where that is not possible, keep stormwater on-site. We know Minneapolis will be successful in that regard, and we’ve been a part of more and more conversations asking these questions at a municipal level.
Landscape architects and architects are well-positioned to be advocates for new technologies and approaches to these challenges. While they may not always be successful in their efforts (budgets, client preferences and site designs will always factor in) we all want to keep the conversation going. As far as managing stormwater runoff in paved areas is concerned, we’re convinced that sustainable green utilities like trees and soil must play a significant role in any long-term strategy.