Stormwater Fees Scary for Hospitals

Posted on May 24, 2012

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If my last post on hospitals’ possible water wars and proactive water reuse was not persuasive enough, maybe treble stormwater fees might do the trick.

A recent trade magazine (Buildings?) reported on some localities tripling stormwater fee assessments for city dwellers.  The average homeowner may not balk at a rate hike from $24 to over $57 a year; however, institutions with large swaths of impervious surface, the key fact upon which the fees are based, may have serious heartburn.

The published example noted a $6 quarterly fee based on 1610 SFU (single family unit – aka the average impervious area in square feet for a single family home in a given municipality) jumping to $14.40 per quarter, or $57.60 a year.

Each locality calculates its fees differently, but let’s do some quick math for a hospital.

The Mayo Clinic Jacksonville campus is 140 acres.  If we assume 20% is built or paved, that comes to 28 acres.  28 acres is 1,219,680 square feet.  Jacksonville charges $60 / year / 3100 SFU for the average house.  1,219,680 SF divided by 3100 SF equals 393.45 SFU.  393.45 SFU x $60 / year = $23,608 in stormwater fees per year.

Mayo Clinic Jacksonville was recently given 252 additional acres.  If Mayo develops just 10% of that area into impervious area, it would mean potentially another $21,077 in stormwater fees.  And if Jacksonville reduced its SFU 50% (closer to the published example), fees would nearly double.  Or if Jacksonville tripled its fees (as in the published example), Mayo Jax would be looking at $89,370 or $134,055 a year, instead of $44,685.

I have no idea what, or if, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville pays in stormwater fees (some hospitals are fee exempt).  But this illustration shows how a simple assessment can get expensive quickly, and how important it is to begin to reduce water use in order to have some negotiation power to get a break on future fees.

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