As city infrastructures age, organizations will increasingly face the threat of higher stormwater fees. Case in point: Arlington Heights, in suburban Chicago, is implementing a new stormwater utility fee for businesses to help fund flood control projects throughout town, according to the Daily Herald. While small businesses (up to 40,000) square feet per billed meter, will pay just $6.25 additional per month, larger businesses will have higher fees in four tiers, depending on the size of the facility and the number of meters. These fees will range from about $12 per month to more than $30 per month.
While these additional fees may not make or break a business, the new Arlington Heights fee highlights the challenges that businesses across the US face in terms of stormwater management. In Colorado Springs, CO, for example, organizations may be facing a one-time fee to fix the city’s stormwater system. The EPA filed a lawsuit against the city in November for not adequately funding its stormwater management program, a failure that caused problems for cities to the south (per KKTV 11 News).
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said that restoring the country’s water infrastructure is one of the EPA’s top priorities, so the pace of water management improvement projects in cities will likely increase – potentially boosting stormwater management fees for businesses. However, the EPA also offers a financial assistance program for a wide range of water infrastructure projects, via the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) . The program is a partnership between the EPA and the states that replaced EPA’s Construction Grants program. States have the flexibility to fund a range of projects that address their highest priority water quality needs. The program was amended in 2014 by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act.
Using a combination of federal and state funds, state CWSRF programs provide loans to eligible recipients to:
- construct municipal wastewater facilities;
- control nonpoint sources of pollution;
- build decentralized wastewater treatment systems;
- create green infrastructure projects;
- protect estuaries;
- fund other water quality projects.
Building on a federal investment of $41 billion, the state CWSRFs have provided more than $118 billion to communities through 2016, the EPA says.
As Environmental Leader wrote in July, businesses have begun implementing new ways of managing stormwater and wastewater runoff to avoid fee increases. One way is the use of new types of permeable pavement. Larger companies – industrial and commercial end-users in particular – have been choosing new decentralized solutions for water and wastewater treatment, according to a new study from Frost & Sullivan. Water scarcity, severe water stress, and stringent regulations to control pollution in water bodies are supporting the growth of decentralized packaged/containerized water and wastewater treatment (WWWT) globally. These modularized treatment plants are low maintenance, compact, easy to install, and more energy efficient. They can reduce the burden on, or eliminate the need for, centralized treatment systems. More importantly, decentralized packaged/containerized treatment is economical and highly sustainable, the report says. Decentralized solutions mean waste or water is managed at or near the site where it is generated.