Dr. Know: If I disconnected my downspouts, why am I getting charged for stormwater?

In 2006, I took the $52 incentive to disconnect my downspouts. Nine years later, I'm still getting charged $29 for "stormwater." Apparently I was supposed to fill out a special form in 2007 to get my discount. In the meantime, I'm out $800!

—Eric B.

Of all the spurious rights to which Americans believe themselves entitled, few are held more sacred than the right to not pay attention.

That said, Eric B.—as much as I admire the groundbreaking hip-hop you created with Rakim in the late '80s—I'm afraid the maxim that applies in your case is, "You snooze, you lose."

As you note, in 2006 the Bureau of Environmental Services offered a one-time disconnection incentive of $53 per downspout to homeowners, money you happily spent on Crocs and bacon-flavored mayonnaise.

In 2007, a separate program, "Clean River Rewards," was created, offering an ongoing discount to property owners who managed stormwater onsite.

This program helps to keep folks from taking the $53 and just reconnecting their downspouts next spring—which, frankly, Eric, does seem like the sort of thing you might do.

Your beef seems to be that nobody told you about this. BES points out that all ratepayers received multiple mailings on the subject. A separate mailing went to everybody who'd participated in the downspout-disconnection program.

BES also bought radio ads, hung banners and held biweekly workshops on the program for two years. They hired a guy in a giant raindrop costume (I shit you not; "Stormy the Raindrop") to pimp the program at public events.

Even if you missed all this, the stormwater charge (along with info on how to avoid it) has been on every bill you've received since 2007. You and Rakim can sign up at CleanRiverRewards.com, but that's as close as you'll get to being "Paid in Full."

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com

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