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With Sewer District blocked who's minding the stormwater?

Marc Lefkowitz  |  10/22/13 @ 12:00pm  |  Posted in Clean water, Gardening

The effort to get property owners engaged in a real easy-to-ignore problem—floods and contaminated lake water—was dealt a blow in September when an appellate court told the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District it didn’t have the authority to collect a fee based on the square footage of hard surfaces at homes and business. Observers wondered if this was a death knell for green infrastructure, aka using rain barrels and natural methods to absorb rain where it falls.

Blame it on the rain<br />A permeable paver driveway installed in Cleveland

GreenCityBlueLake is curious, were you shopping for a rain barrel because of a monthly stormwater fee ranging from $3-10 that started showing up on your bill? Maybe you didn’t notice or make the connection to the District's attempt to inspire individual action, like many.

The typical 55-gallon rain barrel sells readily for $75 at Home Depot, and is still your cheapest way of harvesting water for your garden. Until the program was halted, the Sewer District was offering a 25% credit for hooking up 75% of downspouts to a rain barrel. That would put a payback (not counting the water saved) on your investment at around 8 years.

Maybe there are other drivers that inspire more rain barrel and rain garden installations? It could start with a collective vision for dealing with flooding and raw sewage overflows into streams and the Lake. GCBL explores a regional vision for stormwater and its chances of leading to change in this new page.

As we say, “it’s all about taking responsibility for our environmental impacts.” Do you agree?

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A little slow
3 years ago

What's a good compost bin? Is there a "Composting for Dummies" out there? I'm afraid that it will catch fire and burn down my garage (I plan to put it behind my garage, out of sight from the back patio and house).

Marc
3 years ago

@ A little slow --The connection between sustainability and rain barrels, rain gardens and green infrastructure is in keeping our drinking water clean. It is not always easy to see after it goes down the drain, but often the rain water that falls in our yard overflows into a stream before it can be cleaned.

How is this possible and why is it dirty? Rain water picks up trash and pollution, including oil and antifreeze drips from our driveway, excess fertilizer from our yards, and litter and dog waste. Once it is picked up by the rain, it moves through ditches, street gutters, and pipes to our streams, rivers, and lakes where it can cause health and safety problems for us and our children.

Because we live near Lake Erie most of our water in Northeast Ohio flows from our streams to the Lake. When you live near a stream, what you do in your yard affects the health of fish and wildlife in your stream. It also affects the health of the Lake and your safety when you visit the beach.

Rain barrels and rain gardens are simple actions homeowners can take today to help keep our streams and Lake Erie healthy and safe for our use.

For more information, check out our resource area
gcbl.org/live/home/landscaping/healthy-yard-clean-water

Good King Wenceslas
3 years ago

An interesting court case, with a powerful dissenting opinion. Let's see what The Supremes have to say about it.

A little slow
3 years ago

What is the connection between a rain barrel, rain garden, etc. and sustainability?

Christopher
3 years ago

Very surprised by this and doubt it will hold. Typically taxes or fees like this that are not ad valorem come with a presumption of validity that is extremely difficult to challenge.

Marc
3 years ago

Illinois is investing directly in home and business owners installing green infrastructure. Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago, which has an urban flooding program for the Midwest, reports:

-Governor Pat Quinn recently announced that the state would invest over $5 million in green infrastructure, natural hydrology systems (such as rain gardens) that are used to manage stormwater.
-The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) adopted a new set of standards that will require certain types of new developments to use green infrastructure to hold stormwater onsite.
-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the city will allocate $50 million of its sewer and water budget to green infrastructure investments.

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