Stormwater is rainwater that collects on our rooftops, parking lots, road ways and other impervious (hard) surfaces. This water flows into the storm drainage system to our local rivers and streams UNTREATED. As stormwater flows along, it picks up harmful pollutants (such as automotive fluids, trash, pet waste, fertilizers, and pesticides) which can harm our drinking water and the wildlife that live in and near our rivers and streams.
What is impervious surface?
Any hard or disturbed surfaced area that either prevents or slows down the natural entry of water into the soil. Rooftops, buildings, streets, parking lots, sidewalks, asphalt, concrete, other paving, driveways, compacted gravel, patios, artificial turf and storage areas are all examples of impervious surfaces. These improvements affect natural infiltration, create more runoff, increase the rate of runoff and alter runoff patterns of stormwater that drains from an area.
Are sewers and storm drains the same thing?
No. They are two separate independent collection systems. The sewer system, also known as the sanitary sewer system, carries household, commercial and industrial wastewater through a separate system into an underground system. This system then takes the water to a waste water treatment plant (such as the Cross Creek Reclamation Facility, or the Rockfish Reclamation Facility) where the water is treated and then returned to the Cape Fear River. This water is extensively treated in order to make sure that no pollutants enter the Cape Fear River. Types of waste water include: water in your sinks, toilets, washing machines, and water from commercial car washes.
Does stormwater get treated at the waste water treatment plant?
No. Stormwater does not get treated at the waste water treatment plant. Stormwater flows untreated to our local rivers and streams.
Why do we need to manage stormwater runoff?
Polluted stormwater runoff is the number one cause of water pollution in North Carolina. Stormwater is not treated before it enters our waterways. This pollution creates numerous costs to the public and wildlife. Fayetteville uses surface water that accumulates from runoff for drinking water, and it can be much more expensive to clean up polluted water than clean water.
Polluted water can also hurt wildlife that lives in and around creeks, streams and rivers. Soil erosion covers up fish habitats, fertilizers can cause algae to grow, and oil and chemicals can make fish and animals sick. Having pollutants entering our waterways not only hurts our drinking water, but also harms our environment as well.
The amount or quantity of stormwater is also a problem. When rain water falls on hard surfaces, such as parking lots and roads, it cannot seep into the ground. It runs off to lower areas. This water runoff can cause flooding if there is not adequate drainage to safely carry the water from these hard surfaces to rivers, lakes and streams. Flooding can cause damage to yards, buildings, and vehicles. Flooding can also lead to health hazards, such as mold and disease.
How is stormwater pollution managed?
Stormwater is managed by using “Best Management Practices” or BMPs. BMPs are designed to help keep pollutants out of runoff and slow down high volumes of runoff. However, preventing pollution from entering waterways is much more affordable than cleaning it up afterwards. This is the basis of our public education program, and is one of the BMPs that are used.
There are also laws that require people and businesses that disturb the soil to take steps to prevent erosion, as well as laws that make dumping materials into waterways illegal. There are laws about litter, picking up after pets, and dumping materials into storm drains that also help to prevent pollution.
How much does it cost me?
Under the City’s current stormwater rate, a single-family residential property will be billed $72 per year. All single-family residential properties are charged a flat fee. Single-family residential properties include: single-family detached houses, mobile homes on an individual lot, individual duplexes, and residential condominiums.
The stormwater fee for non-single family and business property is based on a calculated number of Equivalent Residential Units (ERU). One ERU is the average amount of impervious area found on a typical single-family residence within the stormwater service area. It was determined that the average single-family residence in our area contains approximately 2,266 square feet of impervious area. Therefore, one ERU=2,266 square feet of impervious area.
Why do we have to pay a fee?
Again, the City of Fayetteville has chosen to implement a fee rather than raise taxes or cut services. The City Council felt a fee was the best alternative for the City and community. The users of the stormwater system are charged equitably based on their contribution of runoff from their property.
How does a fee differ from a tax?
It is all dollars paid, but there are some differences between a fee and a tax.
User equity: Fees are more proportional and give users more control. With fees, larger users pay more, and smaller users pay less.
Dedicated funding: Fee income is segregated, and a stormwater fee can only be used for stormwater related costs. Tax dollars are available for almost any use, and competition for tax dollars usually results in infrastructure being under-funded.
Tax exempt property: Many properties in Fayetteville are granted tax exempt status, such as property owned by the City, County, School Board, FSU and churches. Many of the tax exempt properties have large amounts of impervious area. This places more property tax burden on residents and local businesses, while a fee is charged to all users. There are no exemptions.
Why not use property taxes pay for stormwater?
The City could certainly increase our tax rate to pay for stormwater program. We have ample property tax authority. However, the burden would not be distributed as widely or proportionately. There would likely be no regular dedication of money towards stormwater needs, and no financial incentive for property owners to control stormwater.
How is the money used?
The revenues raised provide the City with a dedicated funding source to make drainage system improvements and better maintain it. The stormwater fee generates over $6 million annually. The fee also allows the City to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater quality requirements to reduce pollution.
The generated funds will be allocated to three primary areas:
Funding for larger drainage projects or capital improvements
Increased maintenance and repair for the drainage system
Compliance with Federal water quality regulations
How do I benefit?
You always benefit from adequate, properly functioning drainage and flood control systems which decrease the likelihood of flooding, erosion, and unlimited pollutants from surface and stormwater runoff. You also benefit from the regulation and monitoring of the properties above and around you. Finally, efforts to protect our water system improve our environment and quality of life and provide benefits to everyone.
Can the Stormwater Fee be lowered?
The City of Fayetteville offers a credit for commercial, industrial, and multifamily property owners if they manage their stormwater runoff through onsite water quality or quantity structural best management practices.
What are the requirements for the fee credit?
Having an onsite stormwater detention or retention pond that reduces the quantity of stormwater runoff from the property that is designed and maintained according to the standards of the City of Fayetteville’s Stormwater Control Ordinance.
Having an onsite Best Management Practice (BMP) that reduces the impact of pollution on water quality and meets the design and maintenance standards in the City of Fayetteville’s Stormwater Control Ordinance. A BMP temporarily stores and/or treats urban stormwater runoff to reduce flooding, remove pollutants and provides other amenities.
Being classified as industrial and covered by either an individual or general National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
Where can I find more information?
You can download a copy of the Stormwater Fee Credit Manual here.
The City addresses projects with the greatest health and safety risks and community impact first. Areas where there is chronic flooding are considered high priorities. The City is responsible for maintaining its current drainage system, performing repairs and completing drainage improvement projects.
Why are BMP’s required for new development?
Environmental regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality require that new developments use BMP’s to control the runoff rate, so that it is not more than before development began. This can be done using a variety of ways, from detention ponds to underground filtration units. Our ordinance also states the requirements and that new development must manage and control stormwater.
What should I do if my street/property is flooding?
If you experience flooding, and you live in the city limits of Fayetteville, you can call our stormwater hotline, 910-433-1613, and a stormwater inspector will come out and assess the situation to determine if it is something that the City can help with.
What should I do if I notice something or someone blocking a storm drain or ditch?
You should call our stormwater hotline at 910-433-1613. Staff will investigate the concern and take any appropriate action.
Are catch basins and storm drains cleaned regularly?
Catch basins are cleaned on an as needed basis. If you notice a problem with a catch basin or storm drain that is not working properly, you can call our Stormwater Hotline at 910-433-1613 to report the problem. Someone will come out to investigate and clean the storm drain if needed.
Our streets are swept on a regular basis, which helps to keep the amount of material flowing into a storm drain or catch basin to a minimum.
What is a catch basin?
A catch basin is a curbside receptacle whose function is to convey water from streets and other urban surfaces into the storm drainage system. These basins can be easily seen throughout the City.
What types of pollutants are found in the storm drain system?
We can find a lot of different pollutants in the storm drainage system, including: paint thinner, paint, used motor oil, antifreeze, pesticides and fertilizers, sediments containing heavy metals, paper trash and bottles, human and animal feces, dead animals, and food wrappers.
I see people dumping used oil into storm drains, what can I do?
If you see someone dumping used motor oil into the storm drainage system, you can call our hotline at 910-433-1613 to report the illegal dumping. When you call, please be specific as to the location, and it is helpful if you can take a picture of the activity.
How do I report trash being thrown into the storm drain?
If you see trash being thrown into the storm drainage system, you can call our hotline at 910-433-1613 to report it. When you call, please be specific as to the location, and if someone is actively throwing trash. Please take a picture if possible to help in our investigation.
How do I properly dispose of used motor oil, antifreeze, paint, etc?
Household hazardous materials such as paint, antifreeze, oil, pesticides and fertilizers can be taken to the Cumberland County Household Hazardous Waste Facility on Wilkes Road for proper disposal. If you have any questions about what they will accept, you can contact them by calling 910-485-3867.
What should I do if I see debris or garbage piled up in the creek?
If you see debris or garbage accumulating in a creek that could cause a disruption or blockage of flow, please call our stormwater hotline at 910-433-1613 to report the location. Someone will be out to investigate the problem and take any appropriate action.
How is stormwater polluted?
As rainwater flows over hard or impervious surfaces, it accumulates pollutants such as oils, grease, chemicals and nutrients. This water flows into the storm drainage system and is discharged into our local rivers and streams.
What is the number one source of stormwater pollution?
In North Carolina, sediment is the number one source of stormwater pollution. Erosion from construction sites and other areas of disturbed land causes soil to wash into the storm drainage system. Sediment has numerous impacts on the water quality of our local rivers and streams, including turbidity and habitat impacts. Sediment can often carry other pollutants to our local rivers and streams such as heavy metals and nutrients.
What is Non-point source pollution?
Non-point source (NPS) pollution refers to water pollution from diffuse sources. Non-point source water pollution affects a water body from sources such as polluted runoff from agricultural areas draining into a river, or wind-borne debris blowing out to sea. Although these pollutants have originated from a point source, the long-range transportability and multiple sources of the pollutant make it a non-point source of pollution. Non-point source pollution can be contrasted with point source pollution, where discharges occur to a body of water or into the atmosphere at a single location.
How do nutrients such as nitrogen get into stormwater?
Nutrients can enter stormwater in a variety of ways, including activities from landscaping, leaks from sanitary sewers and septic systems, and animal wastes.