A Cautionary Tale Regarding Storm Water Runoff


Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

I recently read a story about a small manufacturer in Philadelphia whose water bill doubled from one month to the next.  He questioned the bill and discovered that it traced back to a notice he received from the city the previous year stating that if he did not take measures to reduce the storm water runoff on his property the city would increase his water bill. 

Here is a situation where a municipality is developing alternative funding strategies for needed infrastructure upgrades.  We hear more cases where building owners and businesses are being rewarded by municipalities for the doing the right things. Maybe that’s “the carrot”. Get ready for “the stick” if you don’t take the carrot.

Most likely this is a property owner with a large amount of impervious surfaces causing the rainwater hitting the building and ground to runoff into the storm sewer system for the city. Many older municipalities have co-mingled storm and sewer water management and these systems are often overloaded by significant rain events. It is better to have the water percolate into the ground, return to the water table and be filtered by natural processes. This allows nature to do the filtration as opposed to using electricity and infrastructure to do the work.

Philadelphia, it appears, is taking a very aggressive stance, with financial implications, to get rain water out of the storm sewer system and back into the ground by encouraging the elimination of impervious surfaces. Interesting tactic!

So if you own a three acre parking lot, are not using it and are in the city of Philadelphia, you may soon get a water bill! Guess what; they know who you are: http://www.phila.gov/water/swmap.


  1. Pingback: Save It Lancaster! A Move from Gray to Green Infrastructure | Building Knowledge | CertainTeed Corporation's Official Blog

  2. Pingback: Can Mapping Urban Albedo Help Control Urban Heat Island Effect? | Building Knowledge | CertainTeed Corporation's Official Blog

Leave A Reply