What is a Stormwater Utility?
A stormwater utility is a dedicated funding mechanism to pay for a community’s stormwater management program. Much like an electric, gas, or water/sewer utility, the stormwater utility assesses a user fee based upon the property owner’s usage of the system (i.e. How much stormwater a property generates). This fee is based on how much hard surface, such as rooftops or pavement, is on a property. The revenue generated from the fee supports stormwater-related services and improvements, as well as planning and control programs, that a community needs.
What Projects Can Stormwater Utilities Pay For?
A stormwater utility can pay for all stormwater related activities, as defined by the Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act. This may consist of planning, operations and maintenance, construction of capital improvement projects, and regulatory compliance activities. A locality’s planning needs may include development of their stormwater and asset management programs. Operations and maintenance activities can include items like street sweeping, catch basin cleaning, leaf collection (i.e., flood reduction from clogged inlets) and snow removal, and capital improvement projects can include construction of green infrastructure and gray infrastructure. Most importantly, per the New Jersey Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act, the revenues from a stormwater utility are dedicated solely to stormwater, and cannot be spent on other things. This ensures stable funding for all stormwater activities, reducing the danger and disruptions caused by failing or inadequate systems.
A comprehensive list of eligible projects supported by a stormwater utility can be found here.