From America with ideas - funding stormwater maintenance


Hi everyone,

Has anyone else had this experience?

You have a good idea.

It might be work related. It might be related to a hobby. It might be related to something else. It doesn't matter.

You tell people about it. They sort of get it, but aren't really interested.

You tell more people. They are a little interested, but not in any meaningful way.

You continue telling people, and at some point someone gets it. They get excited. Then more people get your idea. You're not sure what changed, but something did.

That happened recently for me.

I had been considering an idea that I termed a 'stormwater levy'. Essentially the idea was to stop funding stormwater management from local government rates (i.e. based on property value), and instead fund it from a levy based on the amount of impervious area on people's properties.

Then, Andy Hornbuckle from SPEL Environmental gave me a call. He told me that he had an American fellow that he wanted me to meet. Andy Reese. He told me that Andy had experience setting up 'stormwater utilities' in America. Stormwater utilities, Andy told me, fund stormwater management through a user charge based off impervious area. They can be, but don't have to be a standalone organisation.

What you need to realise is that Andy Hornbuckle didn't know that I'd been considering a stormwater levy. It was quite the coincidence that he rang me.

"Really?" I said, "That sounds a lot like this stormwater levy that I have been considering."

Fast forward to October this year and I had the opportunity to present alongside Andy Reese in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

This episode of Ideanthro was recorded in Brisbane, It is Andy's presentation followed by my presentation. It is well worthwhile taking a look at Andy's presentation. Andy talks in detail about his experience establishing stormwater utilities in America. There is a lot that we can learn from the American experience. Why they are popular. How much they cost. How to make a compelling case for one.

A big thank you to:

  • Andy Reese - for being very generous with your time and sharing a lot of your experience with me over several days

  • Andy Hornbuckle - for giving me a call in the first instance, for allowing me to present alongside Andy Reese and for providing the videos of our presentations

What do you think of the idea of a stormwater utility?