History of the City of Fayetteville Stormwater Program

stormwater3In 1995, the City of Fayetteville and unincorporated areas of Cumberland County implemented a stormwater utility to provide a mechanism to fund a federal mandate resulting from the 1987 Clean Water Act. The Stormwater Division initially took the lead role in the joint city-county stormwater program to ensure pollution reduction and permit compliance. Some limited drainage management activities were also provided. Focused resources toward deliberate efforts in areas of creek cleaning, street sweeping, system maintenance, and water quality programs provided an effective means to maintain our infrastructure and also comply with environmental regulations.

In 2007, the Fayetteville City Council recognized the growing stormwater infrastructure needs typically inherent to an urbanized area and made a serious commitment for future funding. An additional stormwater "drainage" fee was implemented for properties within the City limits to address capital projects that were not previously funded. The "drainage' fee was assessed to all developed properties (residential/non-residential/business) within the city limits. This fee supports a higher level of maintenance of the existing infrastructure, develop drainage plans and flood control measures, and fund major capital expenses. Previously identified capital projects were prioritized and planned to be built over a period of several years.

Late in 2008, the Fayetteville City Council further recognized the need to better control stormwater runoff and also prepare for new Phase II stormwater requirements. After extensive review, an ordinance was adopted to establish minimum requirements and procedures for new development, and control the adverse effects of increased stormwater quantity and runoff quality.

In early 2009, it was determined that Cumberland County's future stormwater requirements would be administered by the State of North Carolina, and the County's involvement in the joint utility was no longer necessary. The City of Fayetteville continues to independently maintain its stormwater utility to fund its program activities.

In 2011, the City realized a need to accelerate capital projects for identified drainage infrastructure needs and responded by successfully initiating its first issue of stormwater revenue bonds for $10.5 million dollars. City staff identified over a dozen significant projects that were designed and constructed with those proceeds.

In 2013, the City received its newly reissued NPDES Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit from the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality. Permit negotiations with DWQ and the US EPA had been ongoing for a period of years. In addition to the original Permit components for compliance, the reissued Permit contained a number of new requirements related to Stormwater Phase II regulations that the City will aggressively address.

In 2015, the City’s Stormwater Division marked the 20th anniversary of its commitment to protect stormwater quality.  A few accomplishments include continued permit compliance, the development, and implementation of a dedicated funding source, a comprehensive stormwater management ordinance, public education, drainage system inspections and stream monitoring programs.  Infrastructure improvements also continue to help quality and quantity.

In recent years, the Fayetteville City Council has continued to recognize the growing stormwater infrastructure and regulatory needs by adopting a modest stormwater fee increase to help fund those efforts.  The additional revenue will help in addressing capital drainage projects that were not previously funded as well as maintaining continued compliance of new and expanded environmental permit requirements. 

With the passage of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, the City Stormwater Program will be will be accelerating its capital improvement project program to help reduce flooding on local roads and reduce the potential for damage to property.  The first phase of this effort will involve the completion of watershed studies throughout the City.  The City has 15 watersheds, of which 2 have been studied.  The Beaver Creek 2 watershed study is currently underway.  The remaining 12 studies will take place over the next 5 years beginning in 2019.  These studies will allow engineers to identify stormwater projects and prioritize them for design & construction.  They will also identify water quality issues within the City and provide information that may allow for future grants.  All of the information will be aggregated into a City-wide masterplan. This will be the largest effort ever undertaken by the Stormwater Program and promises to create a long-term plan for the development of the City’s Stormwater utility.  It is estimated that the City may need well over $100-million dollars in stormwater capital improvements to resolve all of the problems that may be uncovered through the studies.  Over the years, the fee has been increased to meet growing needs of the community, however, the majority of Fayetteville remained un-studied due to funding constraints.  Through the decisive action of the City Council, the Stormwater Program can now move forward with a comprehensive plan to evaluate the whole City and develop a path forward