Following decades of declining investments, Ontario’s municipalities are now facing a $6.8 billion deficit to fix existing stormwater infrastructure and to accommodate future growth. This financial gap could get even bigger as municipalities deal with larger flows and more polluted runoff, as landscapes are paved over to meet growth pressures. Stormwater runoff – from heavy rain or snowmelt – can cause flooding, stream or river-bank erosion, and water pollution. There may also be additional costs to deal with changes in precipitation, and thus runoff, from climate change.
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) released a technical report today, Urban Stormwater Fees: How to Pay for What We Need. The ECO surveyed municipalities and found that only about 35% currently recover the full costs of managing stormwater. The report calls on the province to require municipalities to recover the full costs of managing stormwater runoff; for example, by charging landowners a separate stormwater fee based on runoff volumes.
The Environmental Commissioner’s technical report, Urban Stormwater Fees: How to Pay for What We Need, can be downloaded here.