Stormwater Ballot Measure Update

The City Council accepted all the Stormwater Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations regarding a stormwater management fee before it recessed for the summer.  This includes a recommendation, based on our input, to evaluate charging a fee for “point source discharges” (the City’s term for discharges into the storm drain other than storm water, including dewatering for basement construction).

In our latest petition which many of you supported (thank you for your advocacy!) Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater proposed a specific “point source discharge” fee of $33.74 per 1,000 cubic feet of discharge.  This fee that we propose is proportionate to what landowners currently pay for stormwater discharge from their properties.  We feel that charging a fee for all uses of our storm drain system is fairer to all payers rather than the current system in which “point source discharge” users are not charged for using our storm drain system.  As we have shown in City Council presentations, the total of these “point source discharges” is not insignificant, being roughly equivalent to the total amount of stormwater contributed by all residential properties in Palo Alto in a year.

The specific fee we proposed was not adopted because the City Attorney said charging a fee is a complicated legal issue and this rate could not be defensibly determined before the ballot language is finalized in October (presumably consultants are needed!).  However, City Staff is evaluating a fair rate for point source discharges, and believes that it is possible to implement a fee separately from the ballot measure, while possibly including language in the ballot measure that reduces the fees to other payers to offset revenue from point-source discharge.  Doing so would clearly improve the Stormwater Management Bond Measure proposal and likely increase public support for its passage.

We believe the City is slowly moving into recognizing groundwater as a precious and finite resource instead of considering it industrial waste – “nuisance water” in the language of the Santa Clara County Water District.  With your help and support Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater will continue advocating for the protection and wise use of groundwater in the City.

Have a wonderful summer!

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