Stormwater Utility Development
The Town of Wake Forest is pursuing a more proactive approach to stormwater management due to increasingly stringent 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 Utility Fee
To meet the funding needs for a new Stormwater Management Program, the Town is researching potential opportunities provided by a stormwater utility fee.
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.
The benefits of a stormwater utility fee for the community are numerous. The Town is currently investigating what benefit a stormwater utility could bring to our community, and how it could fit the needs and characteristics of the Town.
Possible 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.
Properly maintained stormwater systems can help reduce the likelihood of flooding during heavy rainfall events, protecting properties and infrastructure from damage.
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.
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.
Wake Forest is considering ways to increase the level of service being provided to our residents for stormwater management. 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.