Breaking the Bank: Developing a Sustainable Stormwater Funding Strategy

Date / Time:
Tuesday, Sep 15 4:30pm to 5:00pm
Location:
3
Track / Session:
Track: Funding and Financing / Session 4
Description/Abstract: 

The City of San Diego’s Stormwater Division provides all of the services related to providing clean, safe stormwater, including reducing the risk of flooding, safeguarding water quality, pursuing the use of stormwater as a resource to enhance water supplies, and protecting and restoring natural habitats and recreation areas. The Division works year-round to provide clean waterways and flood-safe communities and has seen the costs of daily operations and maintenance increase steadily.  The significant capital investments that are needed to replace aging infrastructure, address the impacts of more frequent and intense storms, and comply with regulatory requirements are compounding. However, the Division has seen marginal increases in consistent funding sources over the past 7 years with the majority in funding coming from the City’s General Fund and a meager storm drain fee that was last increased prior to Proposition 218. This results in an average annual funding gap that is greater than $220 million per year. This deficit was highlighted in the City’s 2018 Audit of the Storm Water Division, citing that “the severe shortage of storm water revenue is a well-known and documented issue.”

As a result, the Division has initiated the development of a comprehensive funding strategy that includes (1) significant updates to the stormwater Watershed Asset Management Plan (WAMP) to improve understanding and articulation of the costs required to provide the Division’s essential services, (2) identification and evaluation of potential funding options and opportunities to realize cost savings or program efficiencies to contribute towards closing the “funding gap” and (3) strategic development of a refreshed communications and stakeholder engagement plan to increase awareness and understanding of the Division and funding shortfall.

This presentation will describe a proposed approach to closing the funding gap.  It will highlight the recommendations and findings for a robust strategy: technical cost of service and evaluation of existing and future funding sources; and a comprehensive communication and stakeholder engagement strategy to ensure stormwater is understood and valued, including rebranding and refreshing communications.  This integrated approach to valuing stormwater, through a technical, financial valuation and stakeholder valuation, will be applicable to a wide range of municipalities to advance the state of stormwater.

Primary Speaker:
Bethany Bezak, City of San Diego

Bethany Bezak is the Assistant Deputy Director for the City of San Diego’s Transportation and Storm Water Department, where she is responsible for leading the City’s Operations and Maintenance teams for watershed protection and flood prevention.  Ms. Bezak has experience working in the public and private sectors and strives to implement practical and implementable solutions in the urban environment. Ms. Bezak has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Master of Science in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech.  She is a registered Professional Engineer and a LEED AP. 

Bethany Bezak is the Assistant Deputy Director for the City of San Diego’s Transportation and Storm Water Department, where she is responsible for leading the City’s Operations and Maintenance teams for watershed protection and flood prevention.  Ms. Bezak has experience working in the public and private sectors and strives to implement practical and implementable solutions in the urban environment. Ms. Bezak has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Master of Science in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech.  She is a registered Professional Engineer and a LEED AP. 

Supporting Speaker 1:
Raina Dwivedi, CNRG California