Storm water "tax" in Alabama

By Don Casey
for eco-logic


The Storm Water Management Authority (a consortium of 26 local governments in Alabama, including Jefferson County) announced the week of December 15, 2003, the release of the baseline study of the area's trees. According to information obtained from the "Authority's" web site [1], the area encompasses 1,408 [2] square miles - all of Jefferson County, and portions of St. Clair and Shelby Counties. A majority of the cost, $273,000.00, for the study was provided by the Authority, the remaining portion, $200,000 was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.

How the SWMA raises funds: The 1997 report - "IMPLEMENTATION OF AGENDA 21 REVIEW OF PROGRESS MADE SINCE THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT, 1992" cites the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit as one example of the U.S. compliance with the "fresh water resource" requirements of the United Nations "Agenda 21".[3]

Under this United States program, Alabama passed Act No. 95-775, thereby requiring compliance with the "permitting system." Every parcel of property is assessed a "fee" for which a "stormwater runoff permit" is issued - usually to the local government. The amount of the "fee" is determined by the "Authority," and as the "Authority's" website points out, the "fee" is not a tax, and therefore, does not require a vote of the people.[4]

This point should not be overlooked. If the Authority has the right to assess the "fee" without the approval of the people, they also have the right to raise the amount of the "fee" at their discretion. The "fee" generates "$2 million a year" for the Authority[5]. Local municipalities (county & city) receive the "permit" to allow the discharge of the city/residents' "stormwater" into the waters that fall under the jurisdictional authority of the United States.[6]

In the "Quarterly Progress Report" for Feb 28, 2002 to July 1, 2002, the Authority reported to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that: "This project will document current forest canopy and green space using IKONOS Satellite Imagery and use current models to determine the ecosystem value and the positive effect on air quality, energy use, and storm water runoff."[7]

"Ecosystem" references the "new world system" the USDA is required to implement under USDA directive 9500-6.[8] It requires the "philosophy of sustainable development/ecosystem management" to be written into every rule and regulation under the control of the USDA. The 1997 United States report to the United Nations, cited in the second paragraph of the article stipulates that the USDA has "...embraced the Ecosystem Approach to land management."

The Storm Water Management Authority has, in this case, refrained from placing a value on the trees in the study area, leaving the task to the software designers at The Authority inputs the data obtained from the IKONOS Satellite into the program "CITYgreen" and a value based on "sustainable development/ecosystem" principles [9] is produced for each governmental authority. This includes trees on private land. The one page report determines the area of the city that is Impervious surface - A surface that prevents water from seeping down into soil and subsurface layers.[10]

Urban land Use

Tree Canopy


Open Space

It then assigns a value for Air pollution removal, Cooling effects, Stormwater control For Adamsville, Alabama, a city of 25.86 miles, this value is. $2,575,146.20

The intent is clear that the individual home owner is to be assessed based on the report's criteria, though the information has been not been printed. The report format lists the following:

Average Annual Cooling

Cost per Home

Number of Homes

Savings from Trees

Savings from Roofs

Total Savings

Savings per Home

Kilowatt-hours Saved

KWHs Saved per Home

Carbon Generation Avoided

Carbon Generation Avoided per Home

The percentage of individuals who noticed the addition of the "stormwater runoff fee" to their property tax is very low, and an even lower percentage raised objections. The next assessment on your property tax notice will likely relate to the number of trees on your property. Under "sustainable development/ecosystem management" guidelines, how you live (includes trees planted) determines the "new world view" of the local ecosystem health and its relationship to the world's health. From the pattern set, it is likely that the percentage of individuals who notice the next step to the "new world reality" will be even lower.

For those residing in one of the 26 local governments who want to attend: "A regional Tree Summit" will be held to give an annual state of the trees update.[7] You should contact the "Storm Water Management Authority" at 205-943-1941. While you have them on the phone, ask about "...written reports (that) will be given to each city within the geographic area of the study." After all, the study cost taxpayers $473,000.00 - you should see a copy.



2. http//

3. http//

4. http//

5. http//


7. The Quarterly Report, file name "file 147_8" is available at

8. http//


10. Appendices page 326 "The New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan" http//


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