Financing the Future of Storm Water

by Patrick S. Collins, (M.ASCE), Storm-Water Engineer; Stormwater Environmental Utility, Sarasota, FL,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1996, Vol. 66, Issue 3, Pg. 64-66

Document Type: Feature article


For Sarasota County, Fla., draining storm water no longer means draining municipal funds. By establishing a modern storm-water utility, the county has provided a dedicated funding source for storm-water needs and freed up general tax revenues for use in other public services. Like many other fast-growing Florida communities during the mid to late 1980s, Sarasota County faced storm-water problems that exceeded their resources for controlling them. An inadequate infrastructure, service challenges and a changing regulatory environment taxed the aging drainage system that had haphazardly evolved from either development or agricultural activities. Since revenue from general taxes had traditionally paid for storm-water-management programs, badly needed storm-water improvements competed with other county services for funding. In 1989, the county established the Stormwater Environmental Utility (SEU). Admittedly, all the issues have not been resolved, but since that time the SEU has enabled Sarasota County to obtain the financial resources required to address storm-water issues. By understanding our transition from maintenance entity to modern utility, other jurisdictions might similarly benefit by establishing a utility in their community.

Subject Headings: Stormwater management | Utilities | Financing | Hydraulic structures | Municipal water | Taxation | Revenues | Drainage systems | Florida | United States

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