Stormwater Utility

StormwaterOverview

The Town of Wake Forest is pursuing a more proactive approach to stormwater management due to increasingly stringent unfunded stormwater regulations under the MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) Permit and NPDES regulations created by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and subsequently adopted by the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ).

NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which is a permit program administered by individual states that controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waterways. The Town of Wake Forest must meet the stormwater permitting requirements set forth by these entities.

However, it is the Town's goal to not only meet these new permitting requirements, but to also provide current and future residents with a stormwater management program that will protect our drainage infrastructure, improve the efficiency of the overall drainage system, and ultimately enhance the local environment.

Stormwater FAQs

Stormwater Utility Fee

To meet the funding needs for a new Stormwater Management Program, the Town's Board of Commissioners approved a new Stormwater Utility that will go into effect July 2024. The new utility fee will appear as a line item on each property's tax bill or a separate bill depending on the property being within Wake County, Franklin County, or if the property is considered "Exempt." 

A stormwater utility fee is a fee charged to property owners to help fund the management and maintenance of stormwater infrastructure and associated drainage systems.  The fee is based on the amount of impervious surface on a property, such as roofs, driveways, and parking lots that contribute to the generation of stormwater runoff. 

Stormwater Fee Rates - Based on Impervious Surface

An "impervious surface" is a hard surface on a property that does not allow rain to soak into the ground such as, but not limited to, rooftops, carports, driveways, garages, walkways, storage sheds, parking lots, and patios.

Wake Forest roadways and sidewalks are maintained by the Town, and not included in any resident or non-residential property's calculation. Similarly, open bodies of water, a wooden slatted deck, or other material defined as pervious per the NCDEQ Minimum Design Criteria (MDC) are not considered impervious surfaces. (Code of Ordinances Article IV Section 14-77) 

There is a separate fee structure for residential and non-residential customers. Rates are generated by using a geographic information system (GIS) and aerial imagery to provide an equitable fee structure for all utility customers. 

Includes any material which reduces and/or prevents absorption of storm water. This includes but is not limited to, buildings, roads, pavement, gravel surfaces, etc. Open Bodies of water, a wooden slatted deck, or other material defined as pervious per the NCDEQ Minimum Design Criteria (MDC) are not considered impervious surfaces for the purposes of this article.

Rate Structure

The Stormwater Utility Fee is assessed on all properties within the Wake Forest corporate limits (regardless of tax status) based on total impervious surface square footage (sf).

Residential Rates
 

 

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Impervious Range

0-1,500 sf

1,501-4,700 sf

>4,701 sf

Annual Fee

$44

$121

$231

Total ERUs

1

2.75

5.25

 

*1 ERU = 1,200 sf of impervious (Average of Tier 1 impervious)

Non-Residential Rates

Tier 1 residential rate sets the rate for non-residential. 1 ERU (Equivalent Unit Rate) = 1,200 sf of impervious surface. 1,200 sf was determined as the average square footage of the Tier 1 rates.

To find the non-residential rate, follow the following equation:

Total Site Impervious (sf)/1,200 (sf) x $44 = Total Annual Stormwater Utility Fee 

Billing

Billing for the Stormwater Utility is divided into three categories: Wake County, Franklin County, and Exempt Properties. 

Wake County

Residents/Business owners will receive the stormwater utility fee on their tax bill which will be shown as a separate line item on their bill. When paying their tax bill, property owners will also pay for the stormwater utility.

Franklin County

Residents/Business owners will receive a separate bill with their tax bill. The separate bill will include the stormwater utility fee. Property owners will be required to specifically pay this bill.

Exempt Properties

The Town’s Finance department will address Wake County Exempt properties internally. Additional details coming soon! 

All bills will be considered “late” starting January 6.

Appeals Process (IDT)

The Stormwater Utility Fee is assessed on all properties within the Wake Forest corporate limits regardless of tax status based on their total impervious surface square footage.

The Town of Wake Forest utilizes GIS and high-quality aerial imagery through Nearmap to delineate and document the impervious surface total for each property. However, in case of discrepancies, property owners may complete and submit an appeals application for the reasons below.

Ownership

The parcel belongs to someone else.

Impervious Surface

The delineated amount of impervious surface for the parcel is incorrect.

Property Designation

The property is being billed as non-residential, but it is residential (or vice versa).

Tier

Residential property is being billed at the incorrect tier.

Other

If none of these above apply.

Specific documentation may be required to verify the appeal which can be found on the application form.

Performed within the Town’s IDT portal. the process will give property owners the ability to receive an initial high-level quality check of the items listed above. If the applicant’s request is denied, he/she will be able to submit specific documentation to further support their request (such as a certified survey of their property’s impervious surface).

Benefits of a Stormwater Utility Fee

Below is a summary of some of the many benefits a stormwater utility fee may provide:

Improved Water Quality

Stormwater runoff can carry pollutants and contaminants into local waterways, which can harm aquatic life and degrade water quality. The fee helps fund a stormwater management program that can help educate residents on clean water practices and implement programs which aim to reduce pollutants.

Reduced Flooding

Properly maintained stormwater systems can help reduce the likelihood of flooding during heavy rainfall events, protecting properties and infrastructure from damage.

Increased Sustainability

Stormwater Management Programs often include green infrastructure practices, such as rain gardens, bioretention areas, and permeable pavers to help absorb and filter stormwater runoff, reducing the burden on traditional stormwater infrastructure and promoting more sustainable land use practices.

Fairness

The fee is typically structured so that those who generate more stormwater runoff, due to larger impervious surfaces, pay more of the cost of managing and maintaining the stormwater infrastructure. This helps ensure that the cost burden is distributed fairly among property owners based on the level of impact on the system.

A stormwater utility fee can help ensure that the community’s stormwater infrastructure is being properly maintained and managed, benefitting the environment, public health, and our local economy. 

FAQs

Why does the Town need a stormwater utility?

The Town of Wake Forest needs a more proactive approach to stormwater management due to increasingly stringent unfunded stormwater regulations under the MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) Permit and NPDES regulations created by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and subsequently adopted by the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ).

How will I be billed for the stormwater utility, and when is payment due?

The stormwater utility fee will be added to the property’s corresponding county tax bill sent out in July.

Payment for the tax bill will be due by January 5 the following year.

How often will I be billed for the stormwater utility?

The stormwater utility fee will be an annual fee that is placed on the property’s corresponding county tax bill.

How is the stormwater utility fee calculated?

The stormwater utility is based on the total square footage of impervious surface on a property.

Impervious “includes any material which reduces and/or prevents absorption of storm water. This includes but is not limited to, buildings, roads, pavement, gravel surfaces, etc. Open bodies of water, a wooden slatted deck, or other material defined as pervious per the NCDEQ Minimum Design Criteria (MDC) are not considered impervious surfaces” per Chapter 14 Article IV of the Town of Wake Forest Code of Ordinances.

What is an “ERU”?

An Equivalent Residential Unit, or ERU, is the unit used to measure the rate for both residential and non-residential properties in an equitable manner.

For the Stormwater Utility, one ERU was calculated based on averaging the total impervious surface for the Tier 1 residential properties: 1 ERU = 1200 SF.

What are the different tiers of the utility?

Residential properties are split into three different tiers shown below:

Tier 1 (10% of the population)

  • 0 – 1499 SF impervious

Tier 2 (70% of the population)

  •  1500 – 4699 SF impervious

Tier 3 (20% of the population)

  • 4700+ SF of impervious

Non-Residential is based on the total number of ERUs. A sample calculation is shown below:

Commercial Lot has 60,000 SF of impervious surface between their building footprint, sidewalks, and parking lot.

60,000 SF / 1,200 SF = 50 ERUs

50 ERUs * Tier 1 Rate ($48) = Total Annual Fee ($2,400)

How is the utility calculated for townhomes or multifamily units?

Townhomes and multifamily properties with greater that five units will be charged based off the non-residential fee structure.

How are impervious surfaces measured?

Each property’s impervious surface is measured using Nearmap, a High-Quality Aerial Imagery Mapping service.

Stormwater Utility
Assistant Stormwater Engineer
919-435-9449