Stormwater Utility Charges: How To Fund Our Stormwater Assets

Most Australians live in our urban centres, and our need for stormwater management is ever-growing. Protecting our environment is part of a sustainable water future. Stormwater infrastructure plays an integral role in
reducing pollution, mitigating flooding, and increasing liveability.

Impermeable surfaces, such as roads, paths, and car parks, carry water across our urban landscapes. This conveys increasing amounts of pollution to our waterways and increases our reliance on our drainage systems.

We need to create stormwater assets and retrofit existing stormwater infrastructure to continue to meet our burgeoning demands. These are crucial to protect our environment and communities – and protect our downstream waterways, lakes and oceans.

Stormwater assets often lack priority in local budgets, which can lead to funding that runs rich and lean. How do we improve available funding for these vital stormwater systems?

Building A Fair Utility Charge

Stormwater management needs assets that are well-funded, maintained, and updated as technology changes – utility charges for stormwater ensure adequate funding is earmarked for these programs.

These charges are based on fair user-pays models, often billed as ‘the more you pave, the more you pay,’ where property owners are charged a fee that is in line with the impermeable surfaces, property size and stormwater conveyed by their property. Key benefits to an equitable utility charge include stable, sufficient, and flexible funding. Communities pay for their stormwater conveyance at a property level, and all meaningfully contribute to keeping these systems in optimal condition.Stormwater utility charges allow the funding for our stormwater network to scale with demand – from small towns to the largest of cities.Our imminent need for stormwater infrastructure is reflected globally, and many countries like Germany, US, and Canada, are adopting stormwater utility charges with similar operation to existing sewer and water utilities.Property assessments for stormwater are constantly improving. The ability to gauge impermeable surfaces using satellite imagery and GIS data is creating innovative approaches to the generation of stormwater data. These allow utility charges to effectively factor in contemporary urban design and sustainable infrastructure.

Importantly, this allows cost-benefit to be increased for properties adopting best-practice stormwater management – such as the incorporation of blue-green infrastructure, permeable surfaces, and stormwater treatment.


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