each corner of my house), swales & dry wells, and taking the time to complete
the stormwater credit application which includes an inventory of all the
impervious area on my property, I was surprised to get a phone call from the
stormwater management department explaining that my fee would now be increased.
Generally when you apply for a credit, and follow the required steps to the
letter you get that credit, but that is not the case with the Minneapolis
Stormwater credit. You might find this as surprising as I did to learn that my
800 sq foot home on a standard 40 x 120 lot is actually now considered to be in
the same category as a McMansion because I provided an accurate assessment of
all the impervious area on my lot. My house, no different from those on the
rest of my block, has a patio, a two car garage and a walkway to the
garage--all of these are enough to bump me into the maximum category.
You see, the formula the City used to calculate typical impervious area for my
property and most residential properties is apparently in error, so with the
data I provided on my stormwater credit application they took the opportunity
to reclassify me from .75 ESU to 1.25 ESU (how I can be more than one I'm not
sure exactly). So my charge which was now about 7 bucks a month will be
increased to $12.50 (5 bucks), with with the 22% stormwater credit it will only
result in a $3-$4 increase. I'm actually controlling over 45% of the
stormwater on my property but the City knocks that number in half unless you do
the quantitative study which requires employing a certified engineer and
conducting a formal survey of your property.
Sounds like I'm not the only one who has been put in this situation. I
attended the Minneapolis Blooms workshop and used the plant materials grant to
create one of the gardens two years ago and have installed a raingarden one for
every year--doing my part to contribute to stormwater reduction and meeting the
sustainability goals of the City. One of the sustainability indicators that the
City is measuring is number of raingardens installed, and now it turns out that
there is a huge disincentive to let the City know you have installed one.
Actually, there are at least 3 disincentives. The first is that installing a
raingardent takes hard work, design time, and money for the materials. Each of
mine cost about $200 in materials and countless hours to nuture through the
first year especially with droughts, etc... The second disincentive is, you
only get half of the credit you claim. The City has just arbitrarily
determined that if the homeowner does it themself that it can only control half
the stated amount unless you employ a certified engineer, conduct a survey, and
complete the "quantity" credit which could run you in the thousands to do for a
few dollars credit. The third, and this is the big one, is that if you apply
for the credit as I did they City may actually use that information against you
and increase your rate.
I have done more than the City has asked me too. I even use organic yard care
methods. The application and my use of stormwater controls was approved, but
yet I have to pay additional fees for doing something that benefits the City
environmentally and contributes to their sustainability goals! Why in the
world would anyone who learns of this go through the bother if they find out
that in the end there is no incentive and they will only be charged more!? The
process needs to be fixed to actually provide some type of incentive to people
who go through the trouble of installing raingardens as the City encourages.
Maybe the City can have people actually come out and verify the gardens and if
they do give more than 50% credit for the improvements. Maybe the City could
include the use of rainbarrels which they currently do not allow? I think it
is hard for the mayor and City Council to promote that there is a stormwater
credit for people to offset these new costs (which have risen for the third
time in two years) when it turns out there really is not one.
Minneapolis Blooms Garden Award winner (2006, 2007)