Local Government Stormwater Financing Manual

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EFC’s new Local Government Stormwater Financing Manual was inspired by and written for local government leaders.  Public sector financing in general, and stormwater financing specifically often appear to be inaccessibly complicated and technical to even experienced public officials.  Therefore, rather than try to address the myriad of issues associated with stormwater financing, our strategy was to provide a foundation for local officials to move forward by focusing on perhaps the most important financing attribute: leadership and the ability to move communities towards effective action.

Our intent was not to produce a static document.  Rather, it is our intent to use this manual as the launching point for a dynamic financing resource that will develop and grow along with the burgeoning stormwater financing industry.  To that end, this manual is the first in a series of resources to be developed by the Environmental Finance Center that will address important financing issues and opportunities, including:

  • Reducing costs through the use of performance-based financing;
  • Establishing effective stormwater rebate and credit programs;
  • Using markets and offsets in an urban environment; and,
  • Maximizing stormwater benefits through the use of green infrastructure practices.

Manual structure:

This manual is divided into four parts:
  • An introduction, which asserts that a paradigm shift is underway in stormwater finance, and local government staff have a critical role to play in leading that shift;
  • A description of why stormwater management and finance are being transformed and why local governments are at the center of that transformation process;
  • A policy/program development model that was created by Bryson and Crosby (1992) and is applied in the manual to the development of stormwater policies and programs; and,
  • A set of appendices, including:
    • A description of the risks of leading change on big problems, such as transforming stormwater finance systems, and methods for managing those risks;
    • Results of focus group interviews that ground the manual on situations being faced by local government staff;
    • A technical note for experienced readers on setting stormwater utility rate structures; and
    • A list of acronyms and their meanings.


Readers may want to devote their attention to particular sections of the manual.  For example, those who are experienced in the dramatic shifts underway in stormwater management may want to pay more attention to the model than to the description of why stormwater management and finance are being transformed.  Likewise, a reader already immersed in finding a solution to a stormwater problem may want to focus on the “Creating a Solution” phase of the model.  A cautionary note, however: creating an effective solution is dependent on having accomplished two prior phases, “Gaining an Initial Agreement” and “Formulating the Problem.”

In sum, this manual provides, for local government staff, background information about a paradigm shift underway in stormwater management and a process model for being effective leaders in their jurisdictions to create policies and programs to finance that shift.  Our goal is to encourage and empower your leadership efforts.

Being an Effective Change Agent for Stormwater Finance: An Overview of Five Phases to Gain and Exercise Influence, with Lessons Learned
Gaining an Initial Agreement
Formulating the Problem
Creating a Solution
Communication the Solution and Developing Support
Designing for Implementation
Assessing Policies and Programs; Conclusion
Works Cited
Appendix A: The Impact and Benefits of Green Infrastructure in Stormwater Financing Programs
Appendix B: The Risks of Resistance and How to Overcome Them
Appendix C: Stormwater Infrastructure Asset Management
Appendix D: Results of Focus Group Interviews
Appendix E: A Technical Note on Structuring Stormwater Utility Rates
Appendix F: Acronyms and their Meanings