Municipal Stormwater Management Spending in California: Data Extraction, Compilation, and Analysis
David Babchanik, Danielle Salt, Maureen Kerner, Brian Currier, Erik Porse | March 23rd, 2022
Communities in the U.S. fund stormwater management programs to reduce flooding and improve and protect water quality. Few studies have attempted to quantify municipal storwmater management expenditures. This task is important given efforts to meet increasing water quality standards and develop new revenue sources. The purpose of this study was to evaluate trends in municipal stormwater management expenditures across the state of California. The study identified and compiled publicly-available data on reported stormwater expenditures (spending) and budgets for local governments in California. Data were extracted from annual reports for over 160 public agencies. A standardized rubric of activities was developed and used to create a first-of-its-kind database of municipal stormwater budgets and expenditures. The results indicated that there is over $700 million in annual municipal stormwater spending, but this total does not represent all spending due to gaps in publicly-available data. Counties and flood control districts often have the largest total expenditures in a region, but in aggregate cities reported more spending statewide. Available data are not sufficient to adequately evaluate whether current spending meets regulatory requirements. Additionally, publicly-available data are inconsistent across geographic regions regulated by different agencies. The analysis offers a template for improved cost reporting of stormwater programs in U.S. municipalities, which can help answer key questions such as the sufficiency of current funding. Future research can use the method to evaluate spending in other states and regions, evaluate trends over time to improve outcomes, and refine the spending categories based on examples from other states.