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Yes. There are many stormwater utilities in large and small communities throughout the nation, with many more in the planning stages. Locally, there are 32 municipalities in South Carolina who have implemented stormwater utilities based on a survey conducted in 2012.
There are two main reasons. First, additional revenue is needed for stormwater operations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requiring the Town of Fort Mill, and numerous other municipalities, to improve stormwater operations to prevent pollution and improve stormwater quality as part of the "National Pollution Discharge Elimination System." Second, dedicated revenue is needed to maintain and improve the stormsewer system.
A stormwater utility is similar to water, sewer and other utilities that you are familiar with. These utilities charge a fee for services provided. In this case, the service is the control of storm water runoff through construction, operation and maintenance of the stormwater system within the Town’s municipal limits.
Federal laws regulating stormwater runoff require Town of Fort Mill to manage the stormwater that runs off impervious surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, or rooftops. Stormwater runoff carries pollutants directly to our streams and rivers creating flooding issues and contaminating our local waterways.
To learn more about the impacts of stormwater runoff, please visit the Stormwater Department website.
A major storm water quality concern is "non-point source pollution". As the name implies, non-point source pollution comes from numerous locations and is carried through runoff. The types of pollutants include:
These directly impact water quality and now represent the number one pollution source to our waterways. Activities such as street sweeping, elimination of leaking sanitary sewers, and increased cleaning of storm drains can control these pollutants.
Drainage problems may include roadway or structural flooding, clogged or failing underground pipes and culverts, stream bank erosion and stormwater pollution affecting a stream.
No. Only sewage is collected and transported to Town’s Wastewater treatment plant by the sanitary sewer system. Stormwater flows through the storm sewer systems, ditches, and channels. It empties into our streams, ponds, and lakes. It would be too expensive to size the sanitary sewers to convey and treat stormwater in the same manner as sanitary sewage.
The volume of sewage generated by our homes and businesses each day is insignificant compared to the volume of stormwater runoff generated during a rainstorm. The better solution is to prevent the entry of pollutants into the stormwater system in the first place.
Historically, the allocation of funds has not been sufficient to address all of the Town’s storm water service needs. State and federal laws also require that municipalities address the environmental impacts of stormwater pollution, but do not provide the funds to do it. Consequently, the Town must investigate alternative means for raising revenue.
The Town is also responsible for the water quality of natural streams within its jurisdiction as defined by the State and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Town does not maintain facilities that are located on private property or that fall under the jurisdiction of other governmental jurisdictions.
The stormwater utility will provide the funds necessary to provide for the administration, maintenance, and improvement of the Town’s stormwater systems. Some of the services tied to the stormwater program include:
The stormwater utility fee charges properties in Fort Mill based on that property’s contribution to the need for stormwater management. The utility uses the square footage of impervious surface, or surface that water is unable to soak into, on a property as the primary basis for the fee.
The vast majority of utilities across the country have found this to be the most equitable way to charge and collect revenues for this program. A stormwater utility fee is similar to a water or sewer fee. In essence, customers pay a fee related to the amount of runoff generated from their site, which is directly related to the amount of impervious surface on the site.
Impervious surface means a surface composed of any material that significantly impedes or prevents natural infiltration of water into the soil. Impervious surfaces include, but are not limited to, roofs, buildings, streets, parking areas, and any concrete, asphalt, or compacted gravel surface.
The Town measures the amount of impervious surface (roofs, sidewalks, driveway, parking lot, etc.) using the number of Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) per property. 1 ERU is equal to 3,473 square feet, which is the median amount of impervious area found on a typical single-family residential property in Fort Mill. All single-family residential properties are charged one ERU.
Other properties are charged in proportion to this billing unit based on the calculated number of ERUs for the existing impervious area multiplied by the ERU rate. For example, if your property has four times the amount of impervious area of one ERU, you will be charged four times the base rate of $72 per year (i.e. 4 ERUs or $288 per year). This billing methodology is typical for other stormwater funding programs in the United States. The impervious surface is calculated using the County’s 2009 aerial photography. If a property owner believes that the area of impervious surface has changed since the 2009 aerial photography was produced, the property owner can apply for an evaluation.
The Town is responsible for compliance with new Federal and State regulations on water quality as well as providing stormwater management facilities and services. These services are done to protect personal and public property as well as provide for a healthy environment. Funding is not provided by Federal or State government for these services. These requirements are unfunded federal mandates that have been imposed upon all cities similar in size to Fort Mill.
All developed properties are charged a stormwater fee. Properties paying the fee will include residential, commercial and industrial properties, non-profit organizations, federal, state and Town owned properties, and schools. The only exceptions are public streets, which are designed to collect and carry storm water runoff.
Yes, because it is a user fee, just like water and sewer fees which are based upon the cost of services provided. Property taxes are based on the assessed value of the property. The Stormwater Utility Fee is based on the amount of impervious surface area a property has. Because this is not a tax, it is collected from all customers who receive service. Tax exempt properties contribute a significant amount of runoff to the Town because of their size and amount of hard surface. They will be treated like all other customers under the rate structure.
Yes, these include:
Your property may not be physically connected to the drainage system in the same manner as water or sewer but you are still provided service. How? The Town’s stormwater program improves and maintains stormwater facilities throughout the Town.
It establishes design criteria, and regulates development that helps control off site stormwater problems. This program is taking steps to reduce stormwater pollutants that degrade our culinary water quality and the environment of the Town. Every property owner in Fort Mill is served by these activities.
Everyone in the Town benefits from the Stormwater Management Program. The fees collected through the stormwater utility are dedicated solely to managing the Town’s stormwater program. This program brings us into compliance with State and Federal regulations and safeguards our community through improved drainage and protection of our local waterways.
Yes, as long as that property contains impervious area.
Under most conditions, the bill will go to whoever pays the tax bill for the property.
The stormwater fees are subject to the same payment deadlines and penalties as your property taxes.
The stormwater fee will appear as a line item on your annual tax bill.
Property taxes are based upon the assessed valuation of land and their improvements. These values have little relationship to an individual property’s use of the storm drainage system. A service fee, applied to all parcels, is a more equitable method of funding the program. Many tax-exempt properties, such as schools, churches and government agencies are large contributors to the storm water runoff problem. They will pay their share of the utility fee.
No. The responsibility for maintaining the ditch, pipe or channel falls on the property owner. Stormwater Utility crews can only maintain ditches or other drainage facilities on private property if the facility is within the drainage easement granted to the Town. Without an easement, the responsibility for maintaining the ditch, pipe or channel falls on the property owner.
The Stormwater Department is planning to hire a two-man crew who will regularly inspect and maintain the stormwater system for the Town maintained system. If you have noticed a stormwater drainage problem please call the Stormwater Manager at 803-396-9730. Residents are encouraged to help by keeping storm drains near their homes and businesses clear of debris.
Yes. Property owners who reduce the amount of runoff leaving their property may have their fee reduced by a percentage. This can be accomplished by using specially designed systems such as detention ponds or rain gardens that manage stormwater runoff and clean pollutants in the stormwater.
To learn more about the credit system, please read the Credit Policy Manual (PDF).
Under law, stormwater fees may not exceed the cost of providing stormwater improvements and services. Your fees will go into an "enterprise" or special fund that will be used only for the stormwater program.
Users who do not agree with the amount of the stormwater charge they receive should contact the Stormwater Manager at 803-396-9730. If after contacting the Stormwater Manager and you still feel your Stormwater Fee is incorrect, you may provide a written request for reduction to the Stormwater Advisory Board. Your request should detail any information which supports your position about property ownership, the amount of impervious surface area on your property, or your stormwater class.
Any questions regarding the Town of Fort Mill Stormwater Utility should be directed to the Stormwater Manager at 803-396-9730. You can also obtain information calling the Stormwater Hotline 803-548-9098.
For information on how to apply for a land disturbance permit can be found on the Land Disturbance Page. For specific questions about your project please use the contact information on our home page.
$250.00 per disturbed acre, rounded up to the nearest acre.
Everyone. A project requiring any type of land disturbance will require a permit application.
Stormwater issues can be reported through our hotline number at 803-548-9098 or our online form.
We have 2 separate Adopt-A-Stream programs currently (link to page here)! We are also open to coordinating specific service projects with groups! We can sign off for volunteer hours for school clubs. Please contact our Stormwater Management Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org for specific questions.
Please email our Stormwater Management Coordinator for all inquiries about Drippy the Friendly Water Drop!
To find out who owns a particular road you can contact South Carolina Department of Transportation or you can use the York County GIS. The Town can only assist with town owned roads, but we are happy to answer any questions.
An illicit discharge is defined as any discharge to the municipal separate storm sewer system that is not composed entirely of storm water, except for discharges allowed under a NPDES permit or waters used for firefighting operations. Illicit discharges occur through either direct connections, such as piping mistakenly or deliberately connected to the storm drains, or indirect connections such as infiltration from cracked sanitary sewer pipes and degradation of older manholes.
As a result of these illicit connections, contaminated wastewater enters into storm drains or directly into local waters before receiving treatment from a wastewater treatment plant. Illicit connections may be intentional or may be unknown to the owner. Additional sources of illicit discharges can be failing septic systems, illegal dumping practices, and the improper disposal of sewage from recreational practices such as boating or camping.
Pollutants from the example sources below are harmful to the environment and degrade the beauty and health of our community. They need to keep them out of our lakes, rivers, and wetlands.
The following discharges are allowed in Town of Fort Mill: