The Problem with Stormwater
Stormwater is the water that flows off of impervious surfaces due to rain and snow. While stormwater is not new, the volume associated with urbanization has increased. As the water travels over impervious surfaces it can pick up harmful chemicals/debris. Stormwater goes untreated and enters our rivers and lakes with the hazardous materials it has picked up along its path. Stormwater is the leading cause of contamination in our U.S. waterways.
Origin of Concern
There are two driving factors to stormwater contamination:
- Poor disposal of environmental contaminants
- Impervious Surfaces- Any surface composed of material that significantly impedes or prevents natural infiltration of water into the soil. Examples of impervious surfaces include roofs, buildings, streets, parking areas, and any concrete, asphalt or compacted gravel surface.
History of Stormwater Utilities in Fort Mill
Since 2007, the Town of Fort Mill’s stormwater discharges have been regulated under the EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit. Maintenance was covered in General and Gross Revenue Funds, and the town saw significant progress in developing its stormwater management program.
Due to the Town growing in both size and population however, a stronger permit took effect beginning in January, 2014. Additional funding will be needed in order to comply with our permit.
Not a New Concept
Currently, 32 municipalities (74%) in the State of South Carolina have established stormwater utilities. In our local area Rock Hill, Tega Cay, and Columbia have stormwater utilities. It is expected in the future this number is going to continue to increase due to increasing environmental standards.
Basis for Fee
The stormwater utility fee charges properties in Fort Mill based on that property’s contribution to the need for stormwater management. The utility uses the square footage of impervious surface, or surface that water is unable to soak into, on a property as the primary basis for the fee. The vast majority of utilities across the country have found this to be the most equitable way to charge and collect revenues for this program.
A stormwater utility fee is similar to a water or sewer fee. In essence, customers pay a fee related to the amount of runoff generated from their site, which is directly related to the amount of impervious surface on the site.
Where Your Money Will be Going
The stormwater utility will provide the funds necessary to provide for the administration, maintenance, and improvement of the Town’s stormwater systems. Some of the services tied to the stormwater program include:
- Capital improvement
- Construction inspection
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Increased street sweeping and leaf collection
- Public education and outreach
- State and Federal regulatory compliance
- System routine inspection and maintenance within the Town owned right-of-way
- System routine inspection
- Water quality monitoring of local waterways
- Watershed planning
All single family residential units will be charged under a single flat rate. These units are considered 1 ERU (equivalent residential unit). This rate was determined by the average impervious surface area on a single family parcel in the Town of Fort Mill. All other types of property owners will be charged based on the amount of ERU’s the property contains.
Stormwater Utility Fee Credit
For citizens who want to mitigate both pollution, and stormwater flow into storm drains, a credit system has been established in order to reward their conscious efforts. The table below displays all possible stormwater utility credits. The maximum a household can receive is a 50% reduction. For further questions about the details of each credit call 803-386-9730. Click here for the Stormwater Utility Fee Credit Manual.