Funding Green Infrastructure Through Stormwater Utility Fees

October 2, 2019
A storm drain embedded into a street
Photo: Wikimedia user Dhscommtech 

Deep below the streets of St. Paul, Minnesota, 450 miles of storm sewers and tunnels snake throughout the city. 

Invisible to everyday life, underground pipeline systems such as these are called gray infrastructure. 

Camila Fonseca Sarmiento, director of fiscal research at the Humphrey School's Institute for Urban and Regional Infrastructure Finance (IURIF), has been working with the City of St. Paul to identify ways to fund more green infrastructure—a more resilient, sustainable approach to managing stormwater that combines gray infrastructure with natural ecological systems. 

Governments in the United States and abroad have begun to fund stormwater management via a new financial model as an alternative to taxes: stormwater utility fees. Stormwater credits, which reward properties implementing best practices, are also increasing in popularity. 

With her research, Fonseca Sarmiento aims to help local governments make informed decisions about the tools available to fund stormwater management.

Learn more about Fonseca Sarmiento's research in this podcast