representatives once again are challenging the function of the stormwater
utility in Georgia. HB 316 has been introduced to the state legislature to
exempt state facilities from paying local stormwater utilities fees.
There have been behind-the-scenes
conversations to the effect that the state government does not permit buildings
and their inspections to local government.
There have been comments calling the fee a
“local tax” and arguments that the state government does not pay local
The Georgia Supreme Court has validated that
a stormwater utility is a true utility, yet we spend hours at the capital going
through the motions. The state Department of Natural Resources has written that
local governments need to create stormwater utilities to address water-quality
and -quantity issues as written in the state water plan.
The same old questions are brought to the
fore front once again:
1. Do state properties contribute to water
volume runoff that local governments must contended with?
2. Does this runoff contain pollutants that
contribute to the TMDLs that are being mandated?
This scenario happens in many states, and as a stormwater professional, I
remind you of a quote I once read from Albert Einstein: “In the middle of every
difficulty comes opportunity.”
Stormwater professionals should take these
challenges as opportunities to strengthen the position that a stormwater utility
fee is truly a calculated, engineered fee. Through these efforts, our position
will only get stronger.