A Perspective on Stormwater Utilities

In a recent opinion letter to the Richmond Times Dispatch, former Secretary of Natural Resources, L. Preston Bryant Jr. highlighted the critical role that localities play in the efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Controlling runoff from agricultural land, improving sewage treatment plant discharge, and urban stormwater runoff are the three primary contributors to the bay pollution. Mr. Bryant indicates that implementing a stormwater utility has been and will continue to be a method for localities to deal with this concern.

Having worked with the City of Staunton, Virginia on the implementation of their stormwater utility, I can attest to one of the big challenges that Mr. Bryant brings up in his article, namely, that they are not popular with the public. As seen through stories, of both successes and failures, from municipalities in Virginia and throughout the country, public education is the primary key in implementing and maintaining a stormwater utility. Providing education regarding the many benefits of a dedicated revenue stream for stormwater improvements will allow localities to meet the outlined goals of the EPA, respond to evolving stormwater mandates, and provide a plan for the future.

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