So You Implemented a Stormwater Utility During a Pandemic...?

Doug Moseley, AICP CFM, Director, Water Resources Policy & Planning, GKY & Associates, Inc.

Satoshi Eto, Public Works Program Manager, City of Fairfax

Many of Virginia’s regulated MS4s face ongoing challenges with compliance targets, including the upcoming 2023 and 2028 Chesapeake Bay TMDL implementation schedule.  Along with other MS4-based programming, communities are also seeing additional challenges emerge for drainage improvements and other infrastructure-based needs that transcend regulatory compliance and get more to community service delivery expectations.  As rainfall patterns continue to change in the mid-Atlantic region, some of these drainage and flood mitigation needs have begun to overshadow even the high-profile Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandates that have served as consistent municipal stormwater program drivers for the last 10 years.

The City of Fairfax, Virginia found itself evaluating just such a dynamic – rising infrastructure needs and maintenance costs, ongoing compliance programming requiring capital investments and increased maintenance, and a local drainage service need increasing based on changing weather patterns.  In 2019, the City decided to conduct a stormwater utility (SWU) feasibility study to determine whether a SWU would provide a more stable, equitable, and flexible funding source for stormwater services.  The City’s initial findings indeed found that replacing the current Storm Fund real estate tax set aside with a SWU would be preferrable.  However, during the completion of the feasibility study, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and reshaped the dynamic of the decision.

This paper will explore the City’s process for SWU development and ultimately passing the SWU ordinance during the COVID 19 pandemic.  The authors will present the key decision points evaluated by the City and the strategies and tactics utilized to successfully implement the SWU ordinance and prepare the City for a conversion to SWU funding in 2022.

Author Bio

Doug Moseley is the Director of Water Resources Policy and Planning for GKY & Associates, Inc. in Richmond, Virginia. Mr. Moseley’s twenty-five years of professional experience encompass a broad array of water resources programming for municipal, state, and federal clients across the United States. Mr. Moseley specializes in stormwater program development and implementation for both water quality and quantity concerns, including regulatory planning and compliance, funding and financing strategies, and program development and implementation.
Mr. Moseley holds a BA in American Government and a Master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia.

Satoshi Eto is the Department of Public Works Program Manager for the City of Fairfax, Virginia. Mr. Eto has provided seventeen years of service to the city within the Public Works Department. Mr. Eto administrates the stormwater and wastewater programs for the City of Fairfax. Under stormwater, Mr. Eto coordinates compliance with the city’s MS4 permit, develops and implements TMDL Action Plans, develops and delivers drainage improvements, and oversees stormwater related aspects of public and private site development activities from planning through post-construction phases. Mr. Eto also assists in the development of capital planning for infrastructure maintenance and upgrade for both storm and wastewater systems.