The old expression “you never know the worth of water till the well runs dry” is clearly supported by current conditions in the Southwest, but the worth of water can have a different meaning in the Eastern United States. We have seen more precipitation and downpours which cause floods when the rainfall cannot be absorbed into the soil quickly enough. What is the worth of water then? The cost of flood damage, the structures to manage or treat the toxicity of the discharges contributing to those floods, and perhaps increased storage if the rainfall is not being stored naturally by absorption.

Who Bears the Costs?

Many storm water management projects are built, paid for and maintained by federal and state governments and their agencies using federal and state revenues. Private commercial projects, new subdivisions and new residential developments are generally subject to zoning and building codes which impose those specific project costs on the owners/developers unless passed along to purchasers in property sales agreements. An exception to this is a local public project such as a road or a school, which may pass along those costs to local taxpayers. But what happens when existing storm sewers deteriorate, or when changing conditions (infilling with more ground cover) require major upgrades to such systems? How do those changes happen and who bears the costs?