Stormwater Fees Scary for Hospitals

Posted on May 24, 2012


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.