Stormwater Utility Fee Information

The Stormwater Utility Fee provides funding for the stormwater management program to reduce the impact of stormwater pollution and flooding, and ensure Alexandria is in compliance with state and federal stormwater regulations for the Chesapeake Bay.

Page updated on May 29, 2018 at 9:16 AM

Stormwater Utility Fees 

To view the Stormwater Utility Fee for any property (single family residential or nonresidential): Use the  property search or  Stormwater Utility Fee Map Viewer and enter the property address. The fee will be billed to property owners as a separate line item on their real estate tax bills, half in May and half in October. Properties who do not pay tax will receive a bill for just the stormwater utility fee. Learn more about the Single Family Residential and Nonresidential Fees and Credit Policies below.

RESIDENTIAL
Stormwater Utility Fees & Credits
  NONRESIDENTIAL
Stormwater Utility Fees & Credits


Stormwater Management Services

The Stormwater Utility Fee was adopted to provide a dedicated funding source for existing stormwater management services and new capital projects to reduce sediment and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorous) pollution into our local waterways, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay. It is just one part of the City's larger Eco-City Clean Waterways Initiative. Funds raised by the fee for the City's existing stormwater management program go toward operation and maintenance of public stormwater quality and public drainage infrastructure in the separate storm sewer system, stormwater quality initiatives, compliance with our MS4 stormwater permit, plan review, and our flood management program. Examples of infrastructure projects that help the City meet State and Federal stormwater mandates include the Lake Cook Retrofit, the Ben Brenman Retrofitgreen infrastructure, stormwater best management practices (BMPs) and stream channel maintenance and restoration.  


Fee Structure 

The Stormwater Utility Fee is based on a property’s impervious area, or hard surfaces like roofs and driveways that don't let rain runoff soak into the ground. Residential properties are billed a flat-fee based on the type of property by using the typical impervious area for each type compared to a typical single-family home. In 2018, a typical single-family home will pay $140 a year. townhouses and condominiums will pay less. Detached single family homes with over 2,800 square feet of impervious area will pay more. Non-Residential properties are billed a calculated fee based on their actual impervious area. In 2018, non-residential properties will pay $140 for each 2,062 square feet of impervious area on their properties.  Visit the pages for Residential and Non-Residential  property owners to learn more about each fee structure. 


Credits

Beginning December 1, 2018 all eligible property owners will have an opportunity to reduce their 2019 Stormwater Utility Fees. The City’s credit policy allows property owners to reduce their annual fee by earning “credits.” The credit policy is being developed in two phases. City Council adopted the Phase 1 credit policy on October 24, 2017 which provided some credits for non-residential properties. Phase 2 credit policy that focuses on residential credits will be considered by Council for adoption in the fall of this year. 

What can I do to reduce my fee?

Learn more about credits for  Non-Residential  properties in the adopted Phase 1 Stormwater Utility Fee, including:

  • mandatory structural BMPs and detention practices installed during development
  • voluntary litter cleanup activities 
  • proposed Phase 2 credits for voluntarily constructed stormwater green infrastructure BMPs

Learn more about proposed  Residential credits that would provide homeowners with an opportunity to potentially reduce their 2019 Stormwater Utility Fees. 

How much can I reduce my fee?

Property owners may be able to reduce their fee by up to 50% depending on credit eligibility.

Why can’t I get a credit of 100%?

The main reason for adopting the Stormwater Utility Fee was to more equitably fund the installation of costly new stormwater infrastructure to meet state and federal mandates for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay

Even if every property who is billed the Stormwater Utility Fee manages stormwater with a creditable practice, the City must still install costly new stormwater infrastructure to meet the Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandates as well as maintain existing and new public stormwater drainage infrastructure, which is part of the City’s flood management program.  

Most stormwater best management practices (BMPs) that can earn a property owner credit to reduce their fee only manage the runoff from smaller, more frequent storms. This is intentional, as management of stormwater from small storms makes a dramatic impact on water quality as most pollutants are picked up by the first few inches of rain runoff into our local waterways.

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. However, the public drainage system is designed to manage runoff from a larger storm than nearly all BMPs. 

What is the process for applying?

An annual application is required during the annual credit application window of December 1 to February 15. 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.


Appeals

You may request an adjustment to the fee if there is an error on your bill. 

What is the process for requesting an adjustment to my fee?

Online appeal forms are available on your property’s “Tax & Fee Info” page of the  property search site, which is easily accessible via the Stormwater Utility Fee Map Viewer. You may also complete and submit a paper form. Forms are due within 30 days of billing. The online appeal form will only be available during this window.

Pay your stormwater utility fee even if you’ve submitted an appeal, because payments are applied first to fees, then to any prior period outstanding balance. This may cause late payment penalty and interest to the assessed on the current tax and fees, if the total due is not paid by the respective due date of the real estate property tax bill.

Once you’ve submitted an appeal, the City will review and make a determination upon the receipt of a complete application, including any additional information requested by the City. If a petition to adjust your fee is approved, you will receive a revised bill or payment credit.


Public Outreach

City staff is conducting public outreach by directly engaging the community about the Stormwater Utility Fee per the adopted Stormwater Public Outreach Framework.  Staff has engaged with numerous groups, associations, committees, commissions, land owners, non-profits, and individuals through in-person presentations, social media, and other contemporary public outreach strategies found in the adopted outreach strategy.  Residents interested in having City staff visit their community, business, or non-profit organizations to discuss stormwater management and the Stormwater Utility Fee, or with specific questions, should email  stormwater@alexandriava.gov to schedule a meeting or call 703.746.4357 (HELP) to ask questions.  

Connect with the City on social media and sign up for eNews to receive information as this project progresses.  The following News Releases include SWU information.

Learn more about Public Outreach on Non-Residential and Residential credit policies.


Stormwater Utility Fee FAQs

These FAQs address the most common questions related to the Stormwater Utility Fee. 

1. What is Stormwater?

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or melting snow flows across roofs, driveways, parking lots, streets, and other hard surfaces (also known as impervious surfaces).  Because these surfaces don't allow stormwater to soak into the ground, the runoff can cause flooding.  As it flows across the ground, stormwater runoff may pick up pollutants like grease, oil, pet waste, fertilizer, metals, and other pollutants before entering the City's storm drain system.  Stormwater is not treated, so the City's storm drains lead directly to local waterways, such as Taylor Run, Four Mile Run, Strawberry Run, Timber Branch, Hooffs Run, Holmes Run, Backlick Run, Cameron Run, and ultimately, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.  Unless stormwater is first treated, the pollution picked up by the stormwater runoff enters our streams, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay.  Stormwater pollution and flooding harms our environment, pets and wildlife, and can damage property. 

Stormwater Infographic - Only Rain Down the Storm Drain

2. What is a Stormwater Utility Fee?

A Stormwater Utility Fee is a charge based on the generation of stormwater that pays for the management of that stormwater by the CIty. It is just like fees for services charged by other public utilities. 

 3. What will the Stormwater Utility Fee fund?

The Stormwater Utility Fee will fund existing stormwater management services provided by the City, as well as infrastructure projects required to meet state and federal stormwater mandates. The City has a state-issued permit, which sets pollution reduction goals for nutrient and sediment pollution into local streams, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Services the City already provides include operation and maintenance of stormwater and drainage infrastructure, stormwater quality, compliance with our MS4 stormwater permit, plan review, and our flood management program

Examples of infrastructure projects that help the City meet State and Federal stormwater mandates, include the Lake Cook Retrofit, the Ben Brenman Retrofit, green infrastructure, Stormwater Best Management Practices and stream channel maintenance and restoration

4. Why did the City introduce a Stormwater Utility Fee?

The City adopted the Stormwater Utility Fee on May 4, 2017 with the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget to provide a dedicated source to fund the City’s Stormwater Management Program and was motivated by the need to fund State and Federal stormwater mandates. The fee will fund stormwater management more equitably than through real estate taxes.

5. 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 TMDL pollutant reduction goals.

The Stormwater Management Program supports the Eco-City Alexandria Clean Waterways initiative by managing the quantity and quality of stormwater discharges from the City's separate storm sewer system permitted outfalls.

6. How is the Stormwater Utility Fee different from a tax?

The Stormwater Utility Fee is not a tax. All properties, including tax-exempt properties must pay the fee based on the amount of impervious area for the property type. The amount of revenue collected must be related to the cost of services it funds, and must be used for stormwater management. Revenue from property taxes, for example, is tied to the assessed value of the property and funds general government services.

Some properties receive a full waiver by law, including property owned or operated by the City, public roads, cemeteries; and property owned by George Washington Memorial Parkway, and Northern Virginia Community College, because they hold their own permits to discharge stormwater from a municipal separate storm sewer system from these properties.

7. 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. The Stormwater Utility Fee distribution closely matches the impervious area distribution in the City.

8. How do you determine how much stormwater my property generates?

The Stormwater Utility Fee is based on a property’s impervious area.  Non-Residential properties are billed a calculated fee based on their actual impervious area. Residential properties are billed a flat-fee based on the type of property by using the typical impervious area for each type compared to a typical single-family home.

9. What are impervious areas?

Impervious areas are surfaces composed of any material that significantly impedes or prevents natural infiltration of water into the soil. Impervious surfaces include, but are not limited to: roofs, buildings, streets, parking areas, driveways, and any concrete, asphalt, or compacted gravel surface. The impervious area used for the Stormwater Utility Fee is different than the floor area inside a house. We measure the outside impervious area, like what a bird would see from above.

10. Are there any other municipalities that charge a Stormwater Utility Fee?

Yes. Fee based programs are promoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and authorized by the Commonwealth of Virginia as a way of addressing shortfalls in water resources.  Fee based programs have been used since 1974, and there are currently over 1,500 fee based programs in the country and 25 fee based programs in Virginia.  In the surrounding area, D.C., Prince George's County, the City of Falls Church, and others all have programs similar to the one that was adopted.  

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