Regionalization: Pros and Cons
Implementing a stormwater utility at the municipal, multi-municipal, county and authority levels can be expected to differ principally in terms of increasing geographic scale. As the real extent of stormwater services expands, the variety and type of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) utilized in the service areas can also be expected to expand. Further, as the geographic scale of the stormwater utility services enlarges, the potential for areawide/watershed management approaches to be implemented increases. Several locations that have implemented stormwater utilities have found that areawide/watershed approaches to stormwater management allow for larger and inter-connected management practices and approaches. This has also been seen to reduce the number and cost of implementing and maintaining many small BMPs, with higher efficiency of stormwater management potentially being provided by larger BMP systems.
While there are not a large number of regional stormwater utilities in the country, larger-scale implementation has been seen to lower the cost of achieving the desired level-of-service (such as the Wyoming Valley Sanitation Authority in nearby Pennsylvania). Although this model is not well researched in stormwater literature, research shows that consolidation of water and wastewater utilities, brings scale benefits. Some benefits of regionalization of utility services include:
While the potential for implementation of larger, more complex stormwater management approaches increases as the scale of implementation expands from municipal, to multi-municipal, to county scales, experience in this regard varies widely, including the potential for negative consequences. Formation of a regional stormwater utility will likely lead to less local control and autonomy. Also, permit obligations may be performed by others, increasing the risk of permit non-compliance. Nevertheless, when considering the scale of stormwater utility implementation, the feasibility analysis should consider the scale, and possible economies of scale that might derive from larger geographic approaches as well as the potential negative consequences.
For a detailed discussion of Regional Stormwater Management and the Wyoming Valley Sanitation Authority, click here.