An Analysis of Trends in U.S. Stormater Utility and Fee Systems


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Virginia Tech


Many municipalities have established stormwater user fees (SUFs), commonly known as stormwater utilities, to raise revenue for stormwater management programs, however little is known about the trends among the fees currently in existence. This research observes trends in the establishment, type and magnitude of user fees by analyzing location, population density, home value, and establishment for a comprehensive national stormwater user fee database with data for 1,490 user fees. The Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU), a SUF that charges based on impervious area, was the most prevalent fee type in all NOAA Climate regions of the U.S. except the West and West North Central. The Tier system, a SUF that charges differently for properties by defined categories, was the second most prevalent in all regions except the East North Central and West North Central. The ERU was found in larger cities with high population densities whereas flat fees, SUFs that charge a single rate for all properties, were found in smaller towns. Higher home values led to higher monthly fees for 28% of the municipalities analyzed. The Residential Equivalence Factor (REF), a SUF that charges based on runoff produced, was popular in municipalities with higher home values and the flat fee was popular in those with lower home values. The number of SUFs established increased near Phase I MS4 permit and Phase II small MS4 permit deadlines.



stormwater, stormwater utility, storm water management program, user-fee funded storm water management program