FACTORS INFLUENCING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF STORMWATER UTILITIES IN THE U.S.
AbstractCommunities throughout the U.S. struggle to provide basic public services to their residents, including stormwater management services and recent regulations have only added to this challenge. Increasingly, stormwater utilities are being established to fund stormwater management programs. As of 2018, there were an estimated 1,800 to 2,000 stormwater utilities in the U.S., however the establishment of these utilities has varied both temporally and spatially across the country. This research examines the factors at the national, state, and local-levels that give rise to this variation. Overall, research findings indicate that a lack of clear legal authority, presence of stormwater regulations, and political and public opposition all influence the establishment of a stormwater utility, however the influence of these factors is more nuanced than shown by previous research. Moreover, this research identified several factors that influence the setup of utilities that had not been previously identified, including variations in state-level implementation and enforcement of stormwater regulations, general public attitudes, and the robustness of a community’s baseline stormwater management program. These different factors come into play to varying degrees in individual communities and whether a community succeeds or fails in setting up a utility depends on the final balance of these factors.