October 24 – Coastkeeper Says City’s New Report Shows Need To Invest In Stormwater

Water quality organization says city can’t delay improvements any longer, must think holistically about solutions

SAN DIEGO – October 24, 2013 – San Diego Coastkeeper, an organization that protect fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters in San Diego County, says that the City of San Diego’s October 11 report underscores a need to financially plan and think holistically about solutions to deal with runoff.

Polluted runoff, the number one pollution problem in San Diego, occurs when water flows from developed areas into our inland and coastal waters carrying with it metal dust, bacteria, soaps, trash and other toxins that it collects along the way. The City of San Diego’s independent budget analyst office’s October 11 report, “Fiscal Impact of New Storm Water Regulations,” estimated how much the stormwater drain fee would need to increase to help meet costs for implementation of the municipal storm water permit adopted on May 8.

According to the report, residents in San Diego currently pay 95 cents per month per household, and that only covers about 15 percent of the demand placed on the general fund, which is used for costs related to storm drains, transportation, roads, safety and more. The report concluded that to continue to contribute 15 percent of the cost, the household contribution might rise to $11.14/month in five years and the commercial/industrial side would rise from $0.065/hundred cubic feet today to $0.76/hundred cubic feet in 2019.

“Clean water is essential for business, health and our way of life in San Diego,” said Megan Baehrens, San Diego Coastkeeper’s executive director. “The City’s report says we can’t delay critical infrastructure improvements any longer. It’s not too much to ask that everyone steps up $10 a month to ensure we still have the basic necessities needed to live a quality life in San Diego.”

The report shows that the City must invest $641 million dollars in storm water management in the next five years. Over 18 years, it’s more than $2 billion. This includes routine operations, a backlog of maintenance and new construction needs that built up in past years, flood management and improvements to meet compliance requirements.

According to Baehrens, one important factor to note is that the analysis about stormwater costs assumes zero growth in households. She says that while this may be appropriately conservative, it is nonetheless inconsistent with the 2050 Regional Growth forecast by SANDAG (June 2010), which predicts double-digit population growth in our region over the 18-year period that this analysis takes place. She says both the ratepayer base—and the demand on our infrastructure—will grow.

“We must deal with this now, and the assessment needs to be holistic. The question of stormwater, wastewater and drinking water should be examined together, a point of view that is gaining traction with planners and must continue to be the trend,” said Baehrens. “When we look at stormwater, we should see a resource that can be captured and used to reduce other costs and demands. With innovative management like that, we’ll free up resources for other City needs.”

A PDF of the report can be found online and Baehrens’ full assessment of the report can be read on Coastkeeper’s blog.

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San Diego Coastkeeper
Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects and restores fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters in San Diego County. For more information, visit San Diego Coastkeeper online at http://localhost/sdcoastkeeper.

Jamie Ortiz
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San Diego Coastkeeper®

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