Why Vero Needs a Stormwater Utility
Stormwater is not just rainwater. As the rain falls on our ever-increasing impervious areas, it picks up trash, cigarette butts, gasoline, oil and brake dust from our roads, dog poop, excess fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides from our lawns plus plant debris, grass clippings and soil. All of this ends up in the lagoon or the ocean
Did you know that our lagoon has been declared an impaired water body by the Federal Department of Environmental Protection since 2009? That means it is no longer considered fishable or swimmable. It is currently a threat to our health as well as to its marine inhabitants (think dead manatees and sick dolphins). Recent studies show that toxic algae blooms fueled by excess nutrients can have severe human health consequences such as liver cancer, Alzheimer and Parkinson disease. Our boating, fishing and tourism industries have already been affected by unhealthy lagoon conditions. And what about our future property values?
The City of Vero Beach is studying the formation of a City Stormwater Utility to fund water quality improvement projects that will reduce toxic run off to our lagoon and the ocean. We need to retain more stormwater on the land for both recharge and filtering and capture other pollutants through advanced stormwater treatment methods before they enter our water bodies. A City stormwater utility would raise dedicated funds through fees assessed to all property owners to plan and execute water quality improvement projects. Those dedicated funds will also enable the City to qualify for matching cost share grants of 25 to 50% from Federal and State agencies to leverage City funds for such projects. Over 170 municipalities in Florida already have operating stormwater utilities. It is estimated that the fee for the average homeowner would be about $5 per month, less than the cost of a Big Mac meal or a Starbucks Latte. For larger properties there would be an incentive to reduce their fee by retaining more run off from their property. It is no secret that restoring the lagoon will cost money. But what will be the cost if we do nothing?
The new utility will be the subject of a City Council workshop on April 27th at 9:00 am. The Clean Water Coalition and the Indian River Neighborhood Association ask for your support for a City of Vero Beach Stormwater Utility by emailing Tammy Bursick, COVB Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org or by signing the petition referenced here: bit.ly/COVBSWU