Updated 2/26/24

Recently, municipalities began to assess the costs and challenges for coping with storm water runoff from developed areas. Water from rain, snow, melting and flooding can easily overwhelm municipal sewer treatment facilities, so more and more towns and cities are assessing a storm water utility tax. This tax can help the city construct larger facilities to cope with rainwater from expanding development. Even though homeowners may not see even minor flooding or the storm water that is collected, most homes contribute to the problem. The cause is impermeable surfaces around buildings and homes where rainwater drains into the local sewer system.

The new storm water utility taxes are assessed on the square footage of impermeable surface on your property. Impermeable surfaces can include asphalt, concrete packed gravel, reclaimed asphalt and other hard surfaces that don’t allow water to seep into the ground.

So how can a homeowner avoid these taxes? Many permeable driveway and paving systems are available on the market. They are designed to mitigate runoff by allowing water to drain in to the ground. Permeable driveways can be constructed with special permeable concrete, which looks like regular concrete but allows water to seep into the base below.

Permeable pavers made from stone or concrete can be installed over a sand and gravel base, with spacing to allow runoff to return to the groundwater reservoirs. These pavers really add a terrific look to an otherwise overlooked part of the landscaping, and can make a dramatic entrance to a home.

If you’re in a rural area, a gravel driveway may be just the thing to maintain a permeable driveway. With a good base and regular routine maintenance, a gravel drive can reinforce a rural and rustic look to a home. In southern areas, crushed shells are another option to gravel.

A third option is a paving grid to install a driveway that has the appearance of a continuous lawn. These grids are manufactured from recycled materials and are designed to support the weight of vehicles, which also allowing grass to grow up in between the matrix grid.

Because these various materials are relatively bulky and heavy, it makes sense to check with local contractors for the most economical option for your driveway. If you are hoping to avoid a storm water utility tax, you may want to check with the local permitting authority to determine which solutions allow an exemption.