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Location : City Government > Departments > Public Works > Stormwater Division > Frequently Asked Questions
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Stormwater Division

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:
What is Storm Water Run-Off?
A: Storm Water runoff is the water that slows off impervious surface areas such as roofs, driveways, parking lots, streets and other hard surfaces during rainstorms. Rather than being absorbed into the ground, it pours into ditches, culverts, catch basins and storm sewers.

Q: Why is the City charging me for rain?
A: You are not being charged for rain. The service charge is to manage programs to reduce or eliminate the pollution of storm water. It has been demonstrated scientifically that runoff and pollution from a property increases as the amount of impervious surface area on that property increases.

Q: Hasn’t the City always had storm drains? Nothing has changed at my home/business. Why am I being charged now when I wasn’t several years ago?
A: Yes, the City has had storm drains for a long time. However, the federal regulations that require a comprehensive storm water quality management program are relatively new. The utility fee enables the City to meet its responsibilities to mange the storm drain system more closely, study the contents of storm water, seek out and eliminate illicit connections and illegal dumping, enforce codes more strictly, and educate citizens.

Q: Am I still charged even if it does not rain for a long time?
A: Yes. The pollution potential is actually much greater when it has not rained in a long time because pollutants can build up on all impervious surfaces. In any storm, the initial runoff, or first flush, is the most contaminated. Contrary to what some people believe, storm water charges are not based upon rainfall. Costs are incurred to reduce pollution. Rainwater is simply the carrier that transports the pollutants to open waterways.

Q: Why are the storm water and sanitary sewer systems separate?
A: Unlike waste water, which is treated before it is released back into the environment, storm water goes directly into a community’s ponds, streams and lakes. Because storm water comes in large amounts at unpredictable times, treating it as waste would be very expensive.

Q: Why did the City choose to institute a separate fee for storm water management?
A: There are several reasons. The federal government required that we designate a stable and continuous source of funds to ensure compliance. By establishing a dedicated funding source through storm water fees, the City can ensure that the money required to managing and maintaining this important system is available.

Q: How is the City going to treat storm water drainage systems on private property under this new utility?
A: The City must protect the entire drainage system, publicly or privately owned, from pollution. The City will work with private property owners to advise them on practices to follow to reduce or eliminate pollution. The City will enforce current and develop new ordinances against improper disposal or dumping if voluntary compliance does not occur.

Q: What can I do to reduce pollution in storm water runoff?
A: Creating natural areas on your property can help reduce the quantity of storm water runoff. Disposing of wastes properly, using the minimum amount of chemicals on your yard, and keeping your car well-maintained can reduce the amount of pollution that you add to storm water runoff.

Q: I am already paying for waste water charges. Why am I being billed twice?
A: The bill is for two different services. Waste water charges cover sewage disposal which results from your use of drinking water. The charges are for treatment of the waste water from your home or business. The storm water charge supports programs to reduce or eliminate the pollution of storm water caused by residents and businesses.

Q: I rent my house. Why am I being charged?
A: Responsibility for utility services is assigned by the City to the user of the property. At some times, that user is the owner and, at others, it is a renter. Generally, the owner is assigned responsibility for utility service costs and can choose to pass the cost on to tenants.

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