are in that population range, so we're just one of many," he said, adding that many nearby towns already implemented storm water billing programs. "Many smaller municipalities decided the only way to pay for this program is to implement a storm water billing utility. This was justifiable in that the municipalities are providing a storm water utility service."

"They're not inexpensive measures," said Alexandra Dunn, general counsel for the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, noting that some management practices could include street sweeping, installing catch basins on drainage outfalls so rubbish doesn't flow to water bodies and marking drains so the public knows where the drains lead. "There are a number of technology and management practices that cities can put in place to mitigate the impact of storm water on water quality."

In some places, Dunn said, storm water costs could worsen. "Some states can really be more stringent than the federal government and the federal law," she said.

Though controversial, Dunn said some states were trying to place water quality requirements on storm water discharges that would make cities treat storm water -- something many consider too costly to realistically implement at this point. She said several jurisdictions have filed lawsuits to mitigate the requirements.

"It's not a done deal," she said. "This is the battlefield right now for cities."

Emily Montandon  |  Staff Writer/Copy Editor