Water Environment Federation (WEF)

Experience with Local Stormwater Management Programs


Local stormwater management programs have traditionally been operated and funded as a function of general government. Increasing requirements to deal with wet weather water quality problems and the devastating impact of flooding have led to increased efforts to expand organizational responsibilities and the need for new and dedicated funding. To provide a cross section of information across the U. S. a dozen stormwater programs were identified across western states and experiences from three eastern states, Florida, Michigan, and Florida are considered to compile the information presented in this paper.

After screening the western programs the cities selected for detailed review and discussion in this paper were Albuquerque, NM; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Phoenix, AZ; Tulsa OK; and El Paso TX. This group was selected to represent a wide variety of organizational types including a stand alone or single purpose utility; a special service activity within a public works department; multiple departments within City Government with distributed roles; inter-local agreements distributing roles between separate jurisdictions; and involvement of regional districts or programs. The major functional elements for providing services included program administration, planning and engineering, regulation and enforcement, maintenance operations, and capital construction.

Lessons learned from this review of local experiences with stormwater management programs identified a common theme that the ability to provide adequate and sustainable funding is very difficult. In addition, the ability to work on a watershed basis is complicated when multiple jurisdictions have traditionally worked independently. Other examples of lessons learned include the need to stay focused and faithful to the commitment to fully fund and build capital improvement projects because the visibility and urgency for action varies over time. This includes the need to build infrastructure improvements prior to allowing growth resulting from new development and educating or restricting people from building in flood prone areas and wetland or natural habitat ecosystems.

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