There’s more to encouraging stormwater solutions than financial incentives

Last year I (along with the assistance of some great Research Assistants) conducted research looking at the various types of programs that local government agencies (this study focused on cities and counties in the US and Canada) use to try to encourage private property owners to do stormwater management/sustainable drainage–either grey or green–on their properties. I wrote a paper on the study for the Water Environment Federation’s (WEF) 2014 WEFTEC conference (on here or let me know in the comments if you want to see the pdf directly) and WEF published an excerpt of it in their Water Environment & Technology magazine [paywall].

You can read the article here: WET Feature 3 – Spurring stormwater solutions – Feb_15.

And if you just want a summary, here you go:

Managing stormwater in urban areas can be complicated by the fact that rain falls on property regardless of who owns it. Public investments in stormwater management can only go so far on public land before it becomes clear that engaging private property owners as part of the solution is a necessary part of making an impact. There are a large number of ways to convince property owners and occupants to manage stormwater locally and sustainably. Financial incentives are often citied as a key to getting private property owners involved in sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)/green infrastructure (GI), however, new research indicates that they may not be the answer. An examination of different types of programs across North America to encourage private property SuDS/GI action has shown that while more rigorous program evaluation is needed, it appears that financial incentive programs may not be as effective to encourage adoption of SuDS/GI as other types of programs, and to encourage substantive change, those investments may be better spent on technical assistance, individual engagement, enhanced funding for public agencies and leveraging relationships with local third-party providers.

*Updated post on 1 March 2015 to add a link to the full conference paper on since there was so much interest. Thanks for all the interest, and please do still write in the comments or otherwise let me know if you have questions about the paper or otherwise use it. Thanks!