Stormwater runoff is rainfall or snowmelt that flows from saturated permeable surfaces like roofs and paved driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and streets. Stormwater runoff creates drainage and flooding problems and picks up pollutants such as oils, grease, fertilizers, pesticides, litter and metal. This runoff is then collected and conveyed by ditches, culverts, intakes, catch basins and storm sewers that discharge directly into creeks, rivers, streams and lakes without being treated to remove the pollutants. The contaminants in stormwater negatively impact the quality of our local streams and lakes.
New federal laws regulating stormwater runoff require the City of Urbandale to develop and implement a comprehensive stormwater quality management program to protect and improve water quality.
What is an impervious surface and how does it affect stormwater runoff?
An impervious surface is any surface area that does not readily absorb water. Because water cannot be absorbed adequately, it runs off these surfaces and must be managed through well planned, constructed and maintained stormwater facilities to prevent flooding and pollution of the receiving waters.
The stormwater management fee is based on the amount of total impervious surface on your property. This amount of impervious surface is a good gauge of how much your property is contributing to the overall need for stormwater management facilities in our community.
Is gravel considered and impervious surface?
Yes. It is difficult for water to soak into a packed gravel surface. Once gravel is compacted, surface water runs off of it much like a paved surface. The gravel may slow the flow of water from an area, but nearly the same amount of runoff will flow from under the gravel as if the gravel was not there. Many Flat roofs are covered with gravel, but they still shed the rainwater that falls on them. In addition, if cars or heavy equipment are traveling on gravel surfaces, the runoff typically carries pollutants like metals or petroleum into our waterways.
Why do we have stormwater management fees?
Stormwater management fees are billed monthly to all customers to fund the City’s stormwater management program and facilities. This management program brings the City into compliance with federal regulations and safeguards our community directly through infrastructure improvements, improved inspection and maintenance of critical stormwater facilities, and indirectly through such programs as public education and outreach. Stormwater utility charges to properties are based on that property’s contribution to the need for stormwater management and facilities.
How are stormwater management fees used?
The stormwater management fees pay for operations and maintenance costs of the stormwater management programs and facilities. Some of the services tied to the stormwater management program include the following:
·Storm sewer system maintenance, repairs and construction
·Illicit discharge detection and elimination
·Public education and outreach
·Improving water quality
Who pays the fees?
Owners of all developed land in the City of Urbandale pay the stormwater utility fee. This includes residential properties, commercial properties, industrial properties, churches, schools and other non-profit organizations. Undeveloped land is not charged stormwater utility fees because it does not have impervious surfaces.
How is a stormwater utility fee different from a tax?
The stormwater utility fee is a user fee, much like the fee that you pay for your water utility or sanitary sewer utility services. Users of these services are charged for the demand they place on the system. This user fee system is a fair and equitable way to raise revenue for the program since it charges those who directly contribute to its need.
The stormwater that flows off your property places a demand on a vast system of stormwater infrastructure, which is costly to operate and maintain. Existing water utility fees do not pay for stormwater management. However, the problem of water pollution has called attention to the need for greater safeguards in the management of stormwater. The city must minimize the impacts of flooding and stormwater pollution from the runoff generated from rooftops, yards, sidewalks, parking lots, and streets.
Do other cities have stormwater user-fees?
Yes. A number of municipalities in the United States have established stormwater utilities to fund their stormwater management programs and facilities. Communities in central Iowa include Ames, Clive, Des Moines, Waukee, Windsor Heights and West Des Moines.
What is an ERU?
An ERU (equivalent residential unit) is a measure of impervious surface on a property. The City of Urbandale has established one ERU as 3,200 square feet of impervious surface.
How are stormwater management fees calculated?
Property owners are charged stormwater management fees based on the total impervious surface area on the property. The stormwater management fee system is based on the total impervious surface area divided by one ERU. All single family dwelling properties are charged a fee of one ERU.
Duplex dwellings with two family dwelling units will be treated as two single family dwellings. Townhome dwellings that are not attached vertically are treated as one single family dwelling. Apartments are treated as commercial properties.
Commercial and industrial properties with greater than one ERU of impervious surface are charged for the total ERUs. For example: a commercial property with 8,000 square feet of total impervious surface would be billed for 2.5 ERUs.