Clarifying Richmond’s Stormwater Utility
I attended a presentation of the Richmond Stormwater Utility today, and found out some very useful and interesting information about the new Stormwater Utility program and fee. Richmond has instituted the new fee as a proactive measure. Cities such as Norfolk and Virginia Beach have their stormwater utility fees prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency […]
I attended a presentation of the Richmond Stormwater Utility today, and found out some very useful and interesting information about the new Stormwater Utility program and fee.
Richmond has instituted the new fee as a proactive measure. Cities such as Norfolk and Virginia Beach have their stormwater utility fees prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a result of not undertaking stormwater cleanup efforts on their own. Norfolk and Virginia Beach’s fees are double Richmond’s fee.
Richmond’s base fee is $45, depending upon the amount of impervious surface on a property. Impervious surfaces include roofs, driveways, and patios.
Richmond chose to implement a separate fee, as opposed to raising real estate taxes, for several reasons:
- The fee provides a dedicated source of funding for stormwater maintenance and capital improvement projects.
- Increasing real estate taxes as a source of funding would put a larger burden on homeowners, and the revenues would be put into the General Fund, resulting in fewer stormwater improvement projects because of competition for other projects (schools, police, fire, etc.) funded by the General Fund.
- Businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations, churches, and universities also pay the stormwater fee based upon the impervious surface area of the property. Real estate taxes are not paid by government agencies, non-profit organizations (including churches), and universities, even though they typically contribute to the stormwater problem because of their large impervious surface coverage.
The existing wastewater and sewer fees are separate from the Stormwater Utility, and do not cover maintenance and capital improvements to stormwater facilities. The sewer fees are high in Richmond because of an earlier mandate aimed at eliminating the discharge of raw sewage into the James River, which used to be the case.
The stormwater outlets on our streets flow directly into the streams and rivers, and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay. Stormwater runoff is not treated at the sewer treatment plant. That means that everything left in the street, including trash (of which there is a lot), ends up in the streams, James River, and Chesapeake Bay.
Additional information is available at the Department of Public Utilities’ Stormwater website.
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