Does Punishment or Reward Work Best? | Sustainable Building Alternatives for Stormwater Runoff
Does punishment or reward work best?
The importance of reducing runoff by managing more stormwater on site is now widely accepted.
Climate change, which is adversely affecting weather patterns, and is leading to rain falls that are both increasing in severity and increasing in frequency is a main focus on all levels.
Governments on the federal, provincial and even municipal levels are taking steps to educate, encourage and promote LID (Low Impact Development), green infrastructure and sustainable building alternatives.
The governing bodies are working with both a taxation plan i.e. stormwater taxes for land owners and an incentive plan i.e. grants and incentives that are available on the various levels such as the following one from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM):
The importance of educating and allowing the land/home owner to come to their own decision is similar to parenting strategies that many modern parents implement.
Children can be taught in various ways.
Negative behaviors can be punished, or positive behaviors can be rewarded.
There have been years of discussion and debate on the subject and it seems as though each generation comes up with their own conclusion.
This teaching strategy can be extrapolated to stormwater management and the inclusion of LID and green infrastructure alternatives.
Option 1 – Punishment – Tax Alternative
A punishment or tax can be levied for impermeable surfaces. This tax helps to defray the costs associated with upgrading municipal infrastructure ensuring that the aging infrastructure design is able to adapt to the increasing population density and the increasing volume of rainwater due to the changing weather patterns. The tax is uniform. Everyone pays. The money collected helps to benefit the community as a whole.
Option 2 – Reward Alternative | The Preferred Method
The reward strategy is different, more flexible and we suggest, can be even more impactful to the community on different levels.
Let’s assume there is a stormwater tax, however, those land owners who have taken the steps to do their part to hold water on site, where-it-lands, will be rewarded for their efforts by lower tax rates.
The tax payments may be lower overall, based on residents taking steps to include LID technologies such as rain gardens, permeable paving grids and other permeable pavement alternatives, but the volume of rainwater/stormwater entering the drainage infrastructure is reduced as well.
Isn’t the goal to encourage and promote more and more land owners to install alternatives such as grass paving, permeable interlocking pavers and rain gardens?
Providing Tax Incentives for Those Going Green is More Beneficial Overall
One can debate that by providing tax incentives for those taking the steps to “go green” is overall much more beneficial to the bottom line than levying a stormwater tax to all.
Let’s extrapolate, take this one step further.
What if financial incentives were given to landowners if they were able to configure their property to not only manage “their stormwater” but also manage the stormwater runoff from their neighbours, who, for whatever reason, were unable to achieve the local water management goals?
This type of thinking process is extremely beneficial in the commercial/industrial sector where land areas are large and tax credits can really be felt at the bottom line.
Programs such as these get people thinking collaboratively.
Parking Lot Permeable Paving Can Benefit from Tax Incentives As Well
Surface parking areas can be retrofitted with permeable paving systems and can be shared by neighbouring businesses that may require parking at different times such as schools and churches. Perhaps the company decides to “depave” their parking lot and use it as a gathering area for employees integrated into a rain garden type design, while using the parking area of a neighbouring business.
Shared warehousing and loading areas and truck parking areas, all surfaced with permeable paving are other ways to reduce run off while maximizing land use in an effective, efficient and cost beneficial manner.
Stormwater management is a serious problem our generation is facing.
Ask yourself if, in the long run, people will be more responsive to the “punishment” or to the “reward” strategy.
Change is necessary.
It is up to us to facilitate change that will impact not only us but generations to come.
About LID Permeable Paving Canada | Ecoraster Ontario
LID Permeable Paving Canada is the exclusive distributor of the Ecoraster permeable paving system in Ontario, Canada. For further information call us or fill out our contact form to learn more. We would be pleased to schedule a time for an informational presentation or arrange to have you visit our different installation sites.