As an added bonus, the Hearing Officer recommended the implementation of a pilot program to study the feasibility of extending the credit program to residential customers. The Water Commissioner approved the recommendations of the Hearing Officer in all significant respects. The Next Great City Stormwater Subcommittee intervened in an appeal of the decision by one large nonresidential customer, but the parties reached an amicable settlement.
Next Great City is a coalition comprised of over 100 civic, health, faith, labor, environmental and social service organizations within Philadelphia, all supporting a common-sense, cost-effective agenda to improve the neighborhood environment to truly make Philadelphia the "Next Great City".
One of the ten policy recommendations advanced by Next Great City is to stop sewer backups and flooding, identified by polling as a top issue for both Philadelphia’s businesses and residents. In that polling, 21 percent of residents had a basement flood after a rainstorm and 31 percent of businesses suffered property damage from flooding in the previous year. Residents and business owners alike also ranked these as two of the top five changes needed to improve the livability of the city: "Reduce the amount of sewage and other pollution entering our rivers" and "fix the city's water and sewer system to stop leaks and water main breaks". A Next Great City Stormwater Subcommittee was formed to make findings and recommendations to address these issues.
The Next Great City Stormwater Subcommittee found that Philadelphia currently collects fees for stormwater services from its nonresidential customers through a charge related to customer meter size, which it uses as a proxy for the amount of runoff that a property contributes to the stormwater problem that stormwater services seek to address.
In looking at how other cities had addressed their own stormwater problems, Next Great City found that over 400 cities and towns, such as Austin, Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio, Los Angeles, California and Miami, Florida, charge a user fee for stormwater management that is based wholly or in part on impervious area, which more accurately reflects the amount of runoff that a property contributes to the stormwater problem, and which gives property owners an incentive to take action to reduce the amount of runoff that their properties contribute in order to reduce their user fees.
The Next Great City Stormwater Subcommittee therefore recommended that Philadelphia charge a user fee for stormwater management that is based wholly or in part on impervious area and offer credits and incentives to property owners who take effective actions to minimize their property’s contribution to our stormwater problem.
The Philadelphia Water Department has proposed a stormwater rate design that is largely consistent with the recommendations of the Next Great City Stormwater Subcommittee. The Next Great City Stormwater Subcommittee has intervened in these proceedings to defend the stormwater rate design and to offer recommendations to further enhance that design.
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