What’s my fee?
Single Family Residential Tiered Fee Structure
Residential properties, such as condos, townhomes, and single family homes, are billed using a tiered method. Single family residential property owners pay based on the type of property they own. There are over 43,000 single family residential properties in the City, and this tiered method balances the need of the fee to be equitable while reducing the administrative costs needed. These rates are based on GIS analysis of impervious area of all single family residential properties in the City. This impervious area calculation only considers hard surfaces that a rain drop could fall on, so it does not consider the interior square footage of a house.
This diagram shows the single family residential tiers and the fee on an annual basis, based on the current rate of $140.00 per billing unit. The rate is reviewed annually and set by the city council to be effective July 1 each year, similar to the tax rate and the refuse fee for properties who pay for refuse collection from the City. The fee for each property type in the fee structure is tied to the annual stormwater rate by a billing unit multiplier, which is defined in the Stormwater Utility ordinance. All condominiums have a billing unit of 0.28 (condos pay 28% as much as a typical single family home, or $39.20 in 2018). Townhouses have a billing unit of 0.42 (townhouses pay 42% as much as a typical single family home, or $58.80 in 2018). All typical single family homes will have a billing unit of 1 (so their fee will equal the annual stormwater rate). And large single family homes have a billing unit of 1.67 (67% more than a typical single family home, or $233.80 in 2018).
Learn more about the Stormwater Utility Fee and the services it funds.
How do I pay?
Most customers receive
the bill as a line item on their real estate tax bill that is received directly
or through their mortgage company in May and October each year. Properties who
do not pay real estate tax, receive a bill for just the stormwater utility
How can I reduce my fee?
Online credit application forms are available during the credit application window on your property’s “Tax & Fee Info” page of the property search site, which is easily accessible via the Stormwater Utility Fee Map Viewer. The City will review the application and approve or deny the requested credits. Approved credits will be applied to the following year’s Stormwater Utility Fees and split between the May and October bills. Fillable PDF Credit Application and other Forms may also be printed and mailed to the stormwater management division. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for help getting started.
Credits for Single Family Homes and Townhouses
The Credit Manual includes a menu of flat credits for certain stormwater best practices on single family homes and townhouse properties. These credits can be combined for up to a 30% annual fee reduction. Eligible practices must meet city-recognized design standards. Minimum surface areas will apply to conservation landscaping and permeable pavement (min 300 square feet for single family homes and min 150 square feet for townhouses) and green roofs (min 100 square feet).
- Rain barrels - 2% each, up to 4
- No fertilizer pledge made and upheld - 3%
- Cistern - 10%
- Conservation Landscaping - 10%
- Mandatory Detention - 10%
- Dry Well or Infiltration Practice - 15%
- Rain Garden - 15%
- Flow Thru Planter Box - 15%
- Permeable Pavement system (top course and gravel reservoir) - 20%
- Vegetated Green Roof - 20%
Applications must be submitted with required documentation, including design information in the first year of application, as well as photos and a self-certification that the practice has been maintained and is functioning properly. Combine with credits for New Tree Planting or other mandatory BMP and detention facilities for up to a 50% annual credit. Use the online form found through the property search or use the Adobe/ paper credit application form for flat menu practices. Guides for self-certification can be found with other forms here.
Credits for Residential Condominiums
The Credit Manual includes several calculated credits for residential condominiums:
- Mandatory Stormwater Quality and Voluntary Green Infrastructure BMPs- Max 20%, based on site impervious area treated
- Mandatory Detention Facilities - Max 10%, based on site impervious area draining to the facility
- Urban Nutrient Management Plans - Max 10%, based on vegetated area covered by the plan, which is prepared by a certified urban nutrient management planner
- New Tree Planting
Applications must be submitted with required documentation, including design information in the first year of application, as well as photos and a certification from a qualified professional that the practice has been maintained and is functioning properly, similar to the previously adopted Phase 1 non-residential credits for mandatory stormwater quality BMPs and detention facilities.
Credits for all Property Owners
The Credit Manual includes a calculated, rebate-like credit for new tree planting.
- New Tree Planting - native tree planting, minimum 1" caliper in size - Max 30% in year planted, based on number of trees planted
Tree caliper is a standardized measurement of tree diameter. For 1" caliper trees, the diameter of the tree trunk is measured at 6" above the ground.
Applications must be submitted with required documentation, including receipt, number of trees planted and identification of each tree species, before and after photos, and size of each tree.
Residents interested in having City staff visit their community, business, or non-profit organizations to discuss stormwater management and the Stormwater Utility Fee should email email@example.com to schedule a meeting or call 703-746-4357 (HELP) for more information.
Consistent with the adopted Stormwater Public Outreach Framework, City Staff has made presentations on the Stormwater Utility Fee and Phase 2 Credit Policy to local groups, including: the Environmental Policy Commission (EPC), Civic and Owner Associations: Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations, Clover-College Park Civic Association, Del Ray Civic Association, First Owners Association, Rosemont Citizens Association and developers and property managers.
Direct outreach to residents and civic associations on the now adopted Credit Policy began with an online feedback form open throughout the month of April on homeowner best management practices, which was promoted at The USPTO Green Fair, The Old Town Farmers Market, and Earth Day, on social media, and through direct invitation to participate to civic associations and the EPC. Additional outreach included a new City webpage dedicated to stormwater quality BMPs, social media campaigns about stormwater BMPs, and two public meetings on the draft credit policies held on September 6 and September 14 .
These FAQs address common questions from homeowners. For more information, see FAQs on the Stormwater Utility Fee.
1. How is the Stormwater Utility Fee different from the water bills I receive?
The Stormwater Utility Fee is based on the generation of stormwater runoff and pays for the management of that stormwater by the City. Most residents receive the bill as a line item on their real estate tax bill that is received directly or through their mortgage company. In addition to the Stormwater Utility Fee most Alexandria residents receive two other water-related bills – one from Virginia American Water, which provides clean water to your home, and one from AlexRenew, which cleans your dirty water after it is flushed to the sanitary sewer.
2. Is this related to the combined sewer overflow mitigation?
No. The State and Federal mandates for reducing combined sewer overflows are different than the those for reducing stormwater pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, which motivated the adoption of the Stormwater Utility Fee.
3. How is the fee more equitable than a tax?
Beginning January 1, 2018, the fee replaced the half-cent set-aside in the tax rate, as well as additional general fund contributions for stormwater management, equaling about two cents per $100 of taxed properties’ assessed value. We estimate that residential property owners have about 37% of the City’s impervious area, but were paying about 58% of stormwater management services through their tax burden. Instead, the fee is based on a property’s impervious area contribution to stormwater and requires all properties with impervious area to pay, including tax-exempt properties.
4. How is the rate determined?
The City of Alexandria sets the Stormwater Utility Rate for each billing unit called an Equivalent Residential Unit or ERU. The billing unit is defined as 2,062 square feet of impervious area, which is typical for a detached single family home in the City of Alexandria. Properties within the residential tiered rate structure are charged a flat-fee that is based on a comparison of the impervious area typical of each tier against a typical single-family residential unit. The annual stormwater utility fee is calculated by multiplying the approved FY rate by the number of billing units. The rate is reviewed annually and set by the city council to be effective July 1 each year.
5. How is my tier determined?
The tier for residential properties is generally based on land use.
- Condo tier includes garden-style and hi-rise condos
- Townhouse tier includes townhouse-style condos, row townhouses, and semi-detached houses
- Typical and large single family tiers include detached houses
The designation between typical and large single family homes is based on impervious area. The impervious area is different than the floor area inside a house. Impervious areas include hard surfaces like driveways and roofs which don’t let rain or snow melt soak into the ground. We measure the amount of impervious area by what a bird would see from above.
6. Are homeowner or condo associations charged a fee?
No, homeowner or condo associations are not charged a fee, instead individual residential homeowners are charged a flat fee.
7. Is the City’s mapping of my property’s impervious area correct?
The impervious area is mapped from aerial photos with the actual measurement done via computer imaging, which produces a high degree of accuracy. While most residential properties pay a flat fee regardless of the mapped impervious area, the impervious area determines whether a detached single family home falls within the typical or large fee tier.
The city can provide a map to single family detached residential property owners having over 2,800 square feet of impervious area in the large single family residential tier. To request a map, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Property owners in the large single family tier may submit an appeal for an error in impervious area consistent with the adopted ordinance. More information on Appeals is available on the Stormwater Utility Fee Information webpage.
8. No stormwater runs off my property, can I appeal or get a credit?
The Stormwater Utility Fee is billed to all developed property owners within the City, because all property owners benefit from clean waterways. The City’s stormwater management program includes compliance with state and federal Clean Water Act regulations whose fundamental mission is to make all U.S. waters fishable and swimmable. These regulations are enforced through a state permit that allows the City to discharge stormwater to our waterways. Our stormwater services include a range of regulated activities and activities we perform to be a good steward and to reduce the impact of flooding on property and safety.
No property can infiltrate or store runoff from every storm just as no storm drainage system can handle every storm. Drainage systems, including storm drains, pipes, ditches and creeks, are designed to hold a specific amount of stormwater. Plus, regardless of where a property’s stormwater drains, all property owners benefit from our services to manage stormwater on public lands, to operate and maintain the storm drain system to safely convey stormwater off roadways during rain events, and educational outreach. For instance, due to the activities the City takes to manage our floodplains, the City is rated a Class 6 community under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating Service, meaning Alexandria residents are eligible to receive up to a 20% discount on flood insurance premiums.
Property owners can appeal their fee if an error was made in billing (see more on the Stormwater Utility Fee Information webpage). Note that the appeals process is different from the credit application process. Appeals are due in June within 30 days of billing. Credit applications will be due during the annual application window from December 1st to February 15.
9. What are stormwater Best Management Practices or BMPs?
Best management practices (BMPs) treat stormwater runoff from an impervious surface by improving its water quality. BMPs can include structural or nonstructural management practices that include large regional ponds treating hundreds of acres or smaller BMPs treating a portion of a single family residential roof or lot.
For more information, including detailed design standards and specifications, check out the resources on post-construction BMPs from the Virginia Stormwater BMP Clearinghouse. Note that site conditions or homeowners’ association rules may preclude the installation of certain practices on your property.
10. How can I get technical and financial assistance for installing BMPs?
Eligible property owners who are interested in voluntarily installing BMPs may apply to receive financial incentives and technical assistance from the grant-funded Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP). New homes are not eligible for VCAP cost-share until 3 years after the residential occupancy permit has been issued.