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Stormwater runoff is the water that flows over the ground as the result of rain, snow, hail and sleet. Buildings, streets, driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, and patios prevent the water from soaking into the ground. These structures are referred to as impervious surfaces.
As the runoff flows across the ground, it picks up pollutants and carries them into local waterways, and then into the ocean.
It is important to manage stormwater in order to reduce flood risks that may impact public safety and loss or damage of property, and prevent polluted stormwater from flowing directly into rivers and streams.
A stormwater service is a legal entity that can provide stormwater management activities including administrative functions, planning, engineering, regulation, permitting, maintenance operations, and capital improvements. The stormwater service (like other utilities – i.e., power and water) provides a method of generating revenue for these activities through user fees.
New Hanover County began exploring the process of implementing a stormwater services program in 2017 and on December 16, 2019, the Board of Commissioners approved the program, a fee structure, and additional staff needed to implement the program.
New Hanover County held stakeholder meetings on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, to get public input and feedback on a possible Stormwater Service. Meetings were held with large landholders and developers, non-profits and churches, commercial property owners, and the general public.
An informational meeting, drop-in online public meeting was held Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The meeting allowed property and business owners to speak directly with an engineer from the Engineering Department as well as a representative from our consultant Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. They helped property owners by accessing records of properties, gave accurate depictions of how the program will benefit properties, and explained how stormwater fees are calculated.
A nominal fee supports these services and only applies to property owners in the unincorporated areas of the county.
For the current fiscal year from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023, the ERU is the standard rate of $5.65.
Non-residential properties developed with impervious areas such as rooftops, asphalt, and sidewalks pay based on the amount of impervious surface. The formula for this is: amount of impervious area in square feet divided by 4,000 square feet and then multiplied by an ERU. For this current year (Fiscal Year 2022-2023), the ERU will be $5.65 per month as mentioned above. (As an example: a business with 40,000 square feet of impervious surface pays a fee of 40,000/4000=10, then 10×5.65 (ERU) for a total bill of $56.50 per month or $678 total for the current fiscal year).
Properties developed since September of 2000 that maintain stormwater control measures under a county permit will receive a 31% discount since less maintenance from Stormwater Services will be required.
The Stormwater Services fee is not a tax, but it will be collected once a year through the county's property tax bill (sent in August) and will be listed as a separate fee for property owners in the unincorporated area.