Storm Water Management Fund – Action Needed!

The Palo Alto City Council will look into approving the recommendations  from its Blue Ribbon Storm Drain Committee regarding a ballot measure for the extension of Palo Alto’s storm drain fee assessment this coming Monday, June 27, 2016, 5:35 pm, City Council Chambers.

The current proposal being considered by Council, if approved, would increase our storm drain fees 2.3% over the current levels, with yearly inflation increases.  In view of the possibility of increased flooding due to climate change – severe and more frequent storms and sea level rise – Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater agrees with this and other recommendations from the Storm Drain Committee.  AND, we have an additional request for the City.

Recommendation (14) of the City’s Blue Ribbon Storm Drain Committee Report recommends evaluating the implementation of a user fee for point-source discharges to the storm drain system to reflect their use of the system.  What does this mean?  ‘Point-source discharges’ is the City’s term for any water discharged to the storm drains other than stormwater.  This includes the water that is discharged into our storm drains from the pumping out of groundwater to build basements and underground garages.  We are asking the City Council that this user-fee for point-source discharges be set at $33.74/thousand cubic feet.  We are asking you to please support our request and sign our petition to the City Council.  You can also help by sending e-mails to City Council saying that you support the volume-based fee of $33.74/ thousand cubic feet discharged by point sources.

How did Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater arrive at this rate and why is this important?  This rate of $33.74/ thousand cubic feet rate is equivalent, on a discharge volume basis, to the City’s proposed charge for property owners’ estimated volume-dependent storm drain use.

Here’s how we calculated  the Proposed User-Fee for Storm Drain Discharges other than Storm Water:
$7.03/month (proposed residential volume-based fee for a standard residential lot)  x  12 months/year  x 1,000 ft3   divided by (2,500 ft2  (City’s estimated “average” storm water area contribution to storm drains per standard residential lot) x 1 ft of rain (average annual rainfall in Palo Alto) = $ 33.74 per every one thousand cubic feet of water.

Why is a user-fee for ‘point-source discharge’ important?  The water discharged in 2016 through our storm drains for the first measured dewatering in Palo Alto is already 30 million gallons (4,000,000 cubic feet) –  This is equivalent to 1,600 times the amount of water a “typical” residence places in our storm drain system in a year, or enough water to irrigate 1,000  typical Palo Alto residences for a full year!  We believe it is fair to charge homeowners for their proportionate use of the storm water system.  Equally important, we hope this fee convinces builders and homeowners to adopt building measures that are more respectful of our environment.  We already know that this water that is dumped into our storm drains not only contributes to sea level rise when it ends at the Bay, it also is water that has many beneficial uses in situ:  it provides support for our structures and infrastructure, it can serve as an additional source of water during droughts, it prevents salt water intrusion, etc.

Please join us in asking the City Council to implement meaningful and fair fees for all uses of our shared storm water system.



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