Case Study Source: The Joint U.S.-Brazil Initiative on Urban Sustainability, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Philadelphia Stormwater Regulations provide the legal measures for implementing stormwater billing. The Gross Area (GA) and Impervious Area (IA) of a property are used to determine the Stormwater Management Services (SWMS) charge. The Stormwater Credits program is designed to achieve the following key objectives:
- Provide incentives to nonresidential and condominium property owners to implement and maintain functional Stormwater Management Projects (SMPs) to help the city meet its stormwater management goals.
- Provide an opportunity for nonresidential and condominium property owners to reduce their monthly SWMS charge.
The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) currently offers three classes of credits-an IA Stormwater credit, a GA Stormwater credit, and a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Industrial Permit Stormwater credit. Credits are a percent reduction applied to the IA charge, GA charge, and/or to the entire SWMS charge. It is possible for a property to be eligible for all three classes of credits, depending on the types of SMPs deployed at the site. Examples of SMPs that may be used are basins or ponds, created wetlands, reduced impervious surfaces, swales, trees planted near pavement, rain gardens, subsurface infiltration, rainwater harvest and reuse, flow-through planters, porous pavements, and green roofs.
Existing trees may also be eligible for credit, if they are close to surfaces such as parking lots and sidewalks. The maximum credits that a property can receive shall not exceed 100 percent of a property's GA and/or IA. A property that receives a maximum GA and/or IA credit is still subject to the monthly minimum charge, defined in Philadelphia's Stormwater Regulations [Section 304.3(6)]. There are specific criteria to be eligible for each type of credit.
Property owners are eligible to apply for credits if they are owners of nonresidential or condominium property with at least 500 square feet of GA and whose water, sewer, and SWMS accounts are not past due. There is a nonrefundable fee for one year after initial application if the application is not completed. A class of credit must be renewed every four years or it will expire. Property owners must apply for renewal within 30 days of expiration to prevent a lapse in credits.
Seattle Public Utilities developed a similar program, the Stormwater Facility Credit Program, to acknowledge privately owned systems that reduce stormwater flow and/or provide water quality treatment, which help lessen the impacts of stormwater.
Rio de Janeiro is exploring how to manage runoff and improve stormwater management through Bolsa Verde do Rio de Janeiro, which structures, credits, and creates markets for environmental assets.
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