2010 Stormwater Utility Survey shows best management practices in planning, operations and finance
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - A valuable knowledge resource for stormwater utilities that includes elements of how to address combined sewer overflows and data related to billing consumers was released today. The results of Black & Veatch’s eighth Stormwater Utility Survey, comes at a time when utilities and local governments wrestle with numerous pressures including climate change, aging infrastructure, water quality and access to capital.
“The Black & Veatch survey provides valuable benchmark information on stormwater utility operations, user fee programs, key issues and trends that will help cities establish or enhance existing stormwater utility operations,” said Prabha Kumar, Stormwater Utility Practice Lead in Black & Veatch’s management consulting division.
A key finding of the survey shows that 47 percent of participants believe funding for their respective stormwater utility only meets the utility’s most urgent needs, and 10 percent stated that funding was not sufficient to meet their most urgent needs.
“Water infrastructure funding is at a critical stage in many U.S. regions as communities work to rehabilitate aging infrastructure, comply with environmental regulations and address seemingly new weather patterns,” said Dan McCarthy, President and CEO of Black & Veatch’s global water business. “Stormwater infrastructure alone accounts for nearly $100 billion in needed infrastructure investments nationwide.”
A recent study by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) correlates with the survey’s findings. In The 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the ASCE rated wastewater infrastructure in the United States with a grade of “D-” based on issues including aging, under-designed or inadequately maintained systems.
The full survey results are available at www.bv.com/stormwatersurvey
- Twenty-one percent of survey respondents indicated their utility is dealing with combined sewer overflow challenges. Of these respondents, only one-third currently recover costs associated with combined sewer overflow reduction in their stormwater user fee.
- Combined sewer overflow is the discharge of wastewater and stormwater from a combined sewer system – a sewer system that collects both sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff – directly into a lake, stream, river or ocean. Overflows generally happen as a result of heavy rainfall or precipitation that causes stormwater runoff to overwhelm local wastewater treatment plants.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates more than 770 cities and town across the country have combined sewer systems.
- Stormwater utility fees are typically based on the amount of runoff a specific property produces. This fee structure encourages community members to implement natural and other measures, such as rain gardens and retention basins, to slow or reduce the flow of stormwater into sewer systems, particularly during wet weather events.
- Eighty-one percent of stormwater utilities surveyed represent a city jurisdictional area, with the remaining 19 percent representing counties and regions.
- The ASCE report is available at: www.asce.org