Creating a storm water credit and rebate policy

When the City of Kitchener created a storm water utility and introduced a storm water fee, it promised to develop a policy of rebates, credits or a combination of the both. That process is currently underway.

Before I go further, I will share that on my short contract with the city I helped to devise a strategy to communicate the process and helped with the wording of some of the material. This is the project I wasn’t able to mention in my post about my work there. At the same time, I left to go back full-time to my business before this work was complete.

I had hoped to post something after the public information centre was held and before the deadline for submissions. Unfortunately, I missed that time frame but I’m still going to share my thoughts because the next stage is for a policy to be recommended and there will be another opportunity for public feedback on it before the end of November.

I share my thoughts here in case you would like to take them into consideration at that stage. You should also read the boards created for the first public information centre or the city’s web page on the subject.

My perspective on stormwater credit and rebate policy

I’m assuming that the multi and non-residential credits will happen. For residences, I’d suggest that it’s best if both credits and rebates are used. I’m not sure what would be gained by limiting it to one or the other.

Rebates are good for measures that help to make a small reduction in storm water. I’d see this applying to smaller and/or less expensive controls such as rain barrels. A rebate would be a good way to promote the types of things the average homeowner can do.

Credits should apply to any measures a homeowner takes to significantly reduce their use of the storm water system. If someone were to put in a cistern and possibly a grey water system, they should be able to get an ongoing credit. I don’t believe though that credits should be limited to diverting water coming from rooftops. Wouldn’t something like a permeable driveway also contribute to a sizable reduction in storm water? I think that any measure that requires a sizable investment by a homeowner (possibly by their home builder) should qualify for a credit. Rebates could also be considered if doing so would make it more likely that people would be willing to pay the rest of the costs.

When it comes to credits for any property owner, my understanding is that the utility was created so that costs reflected a property owner’s use of the system. I’d suggest that the credit needs be approximately the same percentage as the reduction in storm water runoff.

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