2.06.2010

The Price is Right: the Storm Water Version


I had posted about this before, but now it's on the front page of the paper: "Could Be Gold, or Big Trouble, in Storm Water." If you want to advocate that the way to go green is to get the price right, which I do, you have to believe that people will change their behavior in responsive to the more accurate price signals, which I do. So it was heartening to see that the article, while covering the requisite "there will be winners and losers from this change, and let's get a couple of quotes of losers who are now cranky," also noted significant things that property owners are doing to lower their bills by reducing stormwater runoff: the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education already has a plan that includes a green roof and two rainwater cisterns, while auto part manufacturer Cardone Industries is going to construct a naturalized retention basin to manage 20 acres of runoff.

To be sure, change can be hard to deal with, especially if your water bill quintuples or you go from paying nothing to paying something. But remember that this is an adjustment to rectify the wrong prices from before; so rather than getting screwed, losers were actually getting a free ride before. And before you wonder if that's all well and good but the proposed rates are too arbitrary and capricious, the article notes that "while real estate assessments can be squishy, storm water is science . . . a set amount of rainfall creates a specific volume of storm water at a certain size facility." And now that the cost of treating is more accurately accounted for, people are responding appropriately. That, to me, is how a city goes green.

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