The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

27 November 2007

Drain in vain

Apparently Tulsa has raised its residential stormwater rate, thereby raising an eyebrow at Stan Geiger's place:

[W]hatever you call it, what residents are coughing up to the Stormwater Management bureaucracy has been increased to $4.79 a month.

As I recall, that fee began at $2 a month in 1987. So in 20 years, it has gone up about 140 percent. I wonder how many Tulsa citizens haven't seen their pay go up 140 percent in 20 years. Quite a few, I'd say.

Tulsa city government explains what it's about:

Residential customers are charged $4.63 [I guess they haven't changed their Web site yet] per month to pay for operations and maintenance of more than 85 detention ponds, plus other stormwater facilities operated and maintained by the Public Works Department. Seventy percent of the money raised by the fee goes toward operations and maintenance of stormwater detention facilities, stream channels, pumping stations, culverts, ditches and other drainage facilities. The rest of the money goes toward small capital projects, utility billing, planning and design services, indirect costs, franchise fee and administration. In addition, the City's stormwater detention facilities provide residents with: open green space for playgrounds, soccer fields and trails; wetlands and ponds that serve as wildlife habitat; flood-resistant commercial and residential development; and safer streets due to drainage improvements.

Here in Oklahoma City, we pay a $4.00 "drainage fee," but it's apparently something entirely different:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now enforces strict storm water drainage regulations. The monthly Stormwater Drainage Utility Fee pays for work we must do to meet these new EPA drainage standards and requirements. The regulations are the result of a federal mandate to clean up pollution from storm water which drains into rivers, lakes and streams.

Washington did not provide any money to pay for meeting the requirements. Every large city in the United States must spend local money — millions of dollars — to avoid crippling fines.

If Tulsa is subject to this same mandate, it might be in their best interest to tell the people who pay the utility bills that some of that stormwater money is being spent on environmental compliance — if in fact it is.

Posted at 10:10 AM to Soonerland

On Thursday, a nice man from OKC will bring me a free Curbs to Creeks Kit. It is a stencil set with all the materials needed for me to mark my storm drain in a manner as to educate people that our neighborhood drains run into the North Canadian River and the Deep Fork River. This program is designed to inform residents that these watersheds are direct and get no filtering between the storm drains and the rivers themselves. The city had to create more kits due to the high demand from neighborhood associations. Ours (MPNA) will propose the idea at the meeting in January. Meanwhile I will proudly be marking mine. A fee may be the next thing to come, but for now some well-placed spray paint on a curb works for me.

Posted by: Aero at 10:52 PM on 27 November 2007