What are the problems with Stormwater?
Pollution: Every time it rains, the rainwater that is not absorbed into the ground or evaporated (called runoff) carries contaminants from lawns, streets, buildings and parking lots and deposits them directly into our city lakes through the underground storm sewer system. Better pollution control and treatment is needed to reduce the amount of contamination flowing into our local waterbodies.
Flooding: Early stormwater management practices focused on preventing flooding. Because of rigorous design standards and city capital investment, flooding from normal summer storms has been dramatically reduced; however, trouble spots still remain.
Funding: Stormwater Management has been funded in the past through property taxes and other general fund revenues. Many projects were deferred to pay for more critical operations of the city such as police and fire. However, what one pays for stormwater management should be related to what is actually passed off the parcel into the city’s stormwater system, not the value of the property from which it came.
What is a Stormwater Utility?
A Stormwater Utility is to stormwater what a sewer utility is to sewage, and a water utility is to drinking water. It is a “stand-alone” service unit within the city government which generates revenues through fees for service. A stormwater utility is responsible for funding the operation, construction and maintenance of stormwater management devices, for stormwater system planning, and lake management. A stormwater utility generates its revenue through user fees. The fee is based on the amount of stormwater a particular parcel passes to the stormwater system. The more runoff a parcel contributes, the greater the fee.
How much is the fee?
Each single-family parcel will be charged based on lot size. A typical 7,760 square foot lot with one ERU of impervious area will pay $119.88 per year. The maximum fee any single-family residence will pay is $137.88 per year based on 1.25 ERU of impervious area. The minimum fee for a single-family residence is $84.00 per year based on 0.5 ERU of impervious area.
Multi-family parcels will pay based on how many Equivalent Residential units, or “ERUs”, there are on the parcel, and the maximum fee per dwelling unit will be the same as that of a single-family residential parcel.
Non-residential developed parcels will be charged based on how many ERUs of runoff is generated from the parcel, at $119.88 per ERU.
Vacant parcels will be charged $62.40 per acre, with a minimum charge of one acre.
How will the Stormwater Utility Fee be billed?
The charge is a service fee, not a tax. However, to save administrative costs, it will be billed annually on the property tax bill and collected by the tax collector.
What is an Equivalent Residential Unit or ERU?
An ERU is a unit of measure which serves as an index to compare the runoff generated by different size properties with different amounts of impervious surface. Impervious surface is any surface which does not allow water to pass through to the soil. Rooftops, driveways, parking lots and streets are familiar examples of impervious surface. In Orlando, the average residential unit (a weighted average of both single-family and multi-family parcels) consists of 2,000 square feet of impervious surface. One ERU is equal to 2,000 square feet, two ERUs are equal to 4,000 square feet, etc. A non-residential property which has 12,000 square feet of impervious surface (six ERUs) is passing the same amount of stormwater to the city’s stormwater system as six typical residential parcels would generate.
What if there are stormwater facilities installed on a property?
The billing formula allows for a discount on the fees charged for those non-single family residential properties which have stormwater facilities designed and built in accordance with the land development code subsequent to the adoption of the Stormwater Design Criteria in 1984. Those properties meeting this provision are entitled to have up to a 42% reduction in their fee, but not less than the minimum charge.
What about vacant property and public property like schools and parks?
Since rain falls on all property, all property will be charged. Vacant property will be charged a minimum fee based on acreage. Schools, churches, etc., will be charged just like shopping centers; based on the number of ERUs on the site.
Is there a minimum base charge?
Yes, there is a minimum charge. The minimum is based on the concept that even if no parcel contributed any runoff to the city system, rain falling on city streets still has to be managed. The costs of managing that stormwater have been assigned equally to all parcels in the form of a minimum charge. The yearly minimum charge, called the base fee, is set at $48.00 per ERU and is typically already included in the $119.88 amount mentioned above.
If a property is not on a lake and is considered high and dry, why is it charged?
There may not be a problem on a specific piece of property or in a neighborhood, but the runoff from the property and the neighbor’s property contributes proportionately to the city’s overall stormwater system. All of those who enjoy living in Orlando “The City Beautiful” benefit from positive actions to manage stormwater problems, and they all suffer when these problems are not addressed.
How will problems such as street flooding be solved?
The city has developed a Capital Improvement Plan which outlines the projects which will be undertaken to reduce pollution and minimize flooding. The city staff is aware of many drainage problems, but if a citizen knows of others, they can call Streets & Stormwater at 407.246.2370 to report problems. Not every drainage problem can be fixed immediately (it has taken nearly 100 years to create the present situation), but the City of Orlando is committed to working to solve these problems as quickly as possible.
Is growth and new development the cause of all of these problems?
New development approved and built in the city since 1984 have had to meet strict regulations on the quality and quantity of stormwater runoff. New development is required to contain and treat their polluted stormwater runoff, but in older neighborhoods, there are no easy or cost effective ways to clean this runoff prior to entering the lakes. Many of our current problems are caused by stormwater runoff from development occurring before 1984. Today’s cost to remove, replace and upgrade old pipes and drainage systems exceeds the cost to build new systems.