What is a storm water utility fee?
A storm water utility fee is the result of unfunded USEPA and SCDHEC mandates on storm water discharge. This fee is used to finance annual compliance with the NPDES permitting standards. This fee is similar to a water or sewer fee. In essence, customers pay a fee to convey storm water from their properties.
What is NPDES?
NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which is the compliance system for the Clean Water Act. NPDES requires that all storm water discharges that enter waters of the United States must meet minimum federal water quality requirements.
Is the stormwater utility fee considered a tax?
No, the stormwater utility fee is not a tax. It is a fee generated to maintain the storm water utility system and fund the NPDES permit compliance. It is user based and dependent on the contribution to the storm sewer system.
Is the storm water utility fee legal?
Yes, storm water utility fees are legal. Although storm water utility fees have been challenged in the past, state and federal courts have ruled that storm water utility fees are necessary to maintain the public storm water system as well as represent an equitable way for the community to share the cost of a public service. They are becoming more and more common throughout the United States. The City of Easley Council discussed and approved the storm water utility fee at public council meetings.
What is the ultimate goal of NPDES permitting?
The goal of NPDES permitting is to improve and protect the quality of our nation’s waterways by eliminating pollution from storm water runoff to the maximum extent practicable.
How was my storm water utility fee generated?
The Storm Water Utility Fee was set at a rate adequate to raise $300,000 in revenue to cover first year operating and capital expenses of the Storm Water Fund.Storm Water fees are computed in terms of ERUs, ie “Equivalent Residential Units.” All single family residential parcels (lots) are counted as 1 ERU.Non-residential parcels pay an annual storm water utility bill based on the total square footage of impervious surface within the parcel. Each 5,000 square feet of impervious surface represents 1 ERU. There are approximately 9,000 parcels within the city and all parcels are expected to pay their proportionate share of the cost of the Storm Water Program.
What is considered to be an impervious surface?
An impervious surface is any surface that prevents water from penetrating the ground. Examples include buildings, driveways, parking lots, swimming pools, patios, paved areas, tanks, pads, and other features that are impervious to rainfall.
Who else is paying a storm water utility fee?
Every parcel owner in the City of Easley is responsible for paying a storm water utility fee including City of Easley, State and Federal government parcels and public institutions, commercial and industrial parcel owners.
How often will the fee be updated/changed?
The fee may be adjusted when permit requirements change. The permit will be renewed in 2005. There are no anticipated changes in the fee structure until the new permit is issued. City of Easley Council must approve any modification in the fee.
Who do I talk to if I want to dispute my bill or impervious area?
We are now past the time for making appeals for this year. However, you are welcome to contact Storm Water Manager to discuss the amount of your bill. The Storm Water Manager will take your information. If you contact the Storm Water Manager concerning your fee amount, please have the most current information you have regarding your parcel.
Your next opportunity to appeal the fee amount will be next year. If you believe the fee amount on next year’s bill is in error, you should promptly file an appeal with the City of Easley as soon as you receive your bill.
Is there anything I can do to reduce my storm water bill?
Yes, a credit system is being developed that will allow up to a maximum 25% credit for qualified, properly designed, installed and maintained water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs). This credit is only available to non-residential properties. Residential properties are not eligible for fee reductions. Because they typically only have a small amount of impervious surface, they pay only a small fee when compared to non-residential properties.
How much does the City of Easley‚??s storm water program cost annually?
The FY 2004 Storm Water Fund budget is $300,000. Operating expenses are approximately $200,000 and capital expenditures are $100,000.
How much is spent on Water Quality problems vs. Water Quantity problems?
The storm water fee is being collected to primarily address the water quality issues associated with the NPDES Phase II Storm Water permit. Approximately 33% of the fee is budgeted for capital projects, which address both quality and quantity problems. This may be adjusted by City of Easley Council depending on available funds and the cost of meeting the permit requirements.
What is a catch basin?
A catch basin is a device to collect storm water runoff and is typically connected to a pipe system or open channel to convey it to a receiving water. A catch basin may be located in the street, on the curb or in a yard.
Do catch basins and storm drains get cleaned out?
Yes, the City of Easley cleans catch basins and storm drains as needed.
Why doesn‚??t the City of Easley install filters or screens in front of catch basins?
Installing a filter or screen in front of a catch basin is not a practical solution to curbing the amount and type of pollution entering the storm sewer system. They are hard (labor-intensive) to maintain and do little to prevent street flooding.
Why doesn‚??t the City of Easley build a storm water treatment plant?
The variation in rainfall amounts and runoff volume would make a storm water treatment plant economically unfeasible. Rainfall not only falls in varying amounts, but also falls in varying quantities from one side of the City of Easley to the other. In many storm events runoff volumes can be excessive. In particular, in developing areas small rainfall events can generate large amounts of runoff.
What is the City of Easley doing about illegal dumping into the storm drains?
There is an ordinance in the process of being drawn up that addresses dumping and litter. Enforcement of this ordinance is part of the City of Easley’s Phase II permit requirements. Code enforcement officers are authorized to cite any person or persons caught illegally dumping any material other than rainwater into a storm drain.
I have seen stencils over certain catch basins. How do I get a stencil for a catch basin near me?
The City of Easley is developing a program to stencil catch basins that drain directly to a water of the State. If the catch basin near you fits into this category, please contact the Stormwater Manager to put it on the list to be stenciled.
Are there any properties in the City of Easley that do not pay a storm water fee?
Yes. State roads are exempt since they are governed by a separate NPDES permit issued by SCDHEC. City of Easley and city roads are considered to be part of the stormwater management system along with City of Easley owned pipes, ditches and swales which convey stormwater to waters of the State. They are the outfalls which the permit requires the City of Easley to monitor, identify problems and improve if necessary.
Does the Post Office or the Federal Courthouse pay a storm water fee?
Does the City of Easley pay a storm water fee for City of Easley-owned property?
What is a watershed and how do I know which watershed I‚??m located in?
The EPA website contains watershed information. You can access it here.
How do I report storm water problems (erosion, flooding, dumping) etc.?
Call the Storm Water hotline at: 864-855-7900
‚?Ę I live at the top of a hill. Why do I have to pay a storm water fee? Alternatively, I live at the bottom of a hill and everyone else‚??s storm water runoff impacts my property‚??why do I have to pay the storm water fee?
Water quality affects all residents in City of Easley and therefore, all property owners must pay their fair share of the costs to keep the rivers, lakes, creeks and streams clean.
What happens if the City of Easley does nothing or refuses to comply with the permit?
Should the City of Easley choose not to comply with the permit, penalties for willful non-compliance can reach up to $25,000 per day each day a separate offense or imprisonment, or both.