Stormwater FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
This page is intended to assist citizens in understanding the new Stormwater Utility, how it benefits them and the enitire community, and how they can become involved in assisting the program.
STORMWATER UTILITY IMPLEMENTATION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
THE BASICSWhat is stormwater runoff?What problems does it cause?Why are the stormwater and sanitary systems separate?What is nonpoint source pollution?What is impervious surface?CAN YOU PROVIDE MORE INFORMATION?Why are we being charged for stormwater (rain and snowmelt)?Why is the stormwater utility the best solution?What is Composite Runoff Coefficient or C-Factor?Will all properties have to pay?Will a fee be assessed against the street system?Who can I contact for more information?WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO PAY IF:I live on high ground?We’ve had a drainage problem in front of my house/in my neighborhood for years and the City has never done anything about it. When are you going to fix it?My area of town is built out and has an adequate storm drain system?We have a stormwater detention/retention pond?What about the part of the property that the detention/retention pond is on?We treat stormwater prior to discharging it from the property?I do not contribute to stormwater in Greeley!I live outside the City but have City water.My property is used for agriculture.WHY IS THE STORMWATER FEE A UTILITY; WHY DIDN’T WE VOTE ON IT? How can the City charge an additional fee without an election?Do other cities have stormwater utilities?Is this utility a way for new developments to avoid their responsibilities for managing stormwater?How can you do this? It’s a rip-off?WHAT ARE THE FEES?How much money will the stormwater utility raise?How much will I have to pay?Why differing land uses?What is the rate factor?How did the City come up with this rate factor?How can I calculate how much I pay?What if my property is not typical for the land use? Wouldn’t this change the Composite Runoff Coefficient as well as my fee? How will the fee be billed to me?Why are the stormwater and sanitary systems separate?When will I receive my first bill?I won’t pay!I DISAGREE WITH HOW MY FEE WAS CALCULATED BECAUSE
:I understood that all residential lots are charged $4.90 per month.I disagree with the C-Factor or the land use the City has established for my property.I disagree with the total square footage of the property/with the ownership. I share my lot with others who should share in paying the bill.What is the process for figuring these situations out?I WANT TO APPEAL MY C-FACTOR
: Will the City come out and calculate my Composite C-Factor for me?How do I get a worksheet for calculating my Composite C-Factor?Where do I send the worksheet when I finish it?What if I have questions on the worksheet? What happens if I appeal and the City doesn’t approve it?
- What is stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff is the water that flows off roofs, driveways, parking lots, streets and other hard surfaces during rainstorms. Rather than being absorbed into the ground, it pours into ditches, culverts, catch basins and storm drains. It does NOT receive any treatment before eventually entering the community’s streams and lakes. Top of Page
- What problems does it cause? Stormwater can carry harmful nonpoint source pollutants, cause flooding, erode topsoil and stream banks and destroy marine life habitats. In an area with natural ground cover, on average, only 10% of rainwater becomes runoff. The rest is absorbed or evaporates. In urban areas, up to 55% of rainfall can become stormwater runoff.Top of Page
- Why are the stormwater and sanitary systems separate?Unlike wastewater, which is treated before it is released back into the environment, stormwater goes directly into Greeley’s ponds, streams and lakes. Because stormwater comes in large amounts at unpredictable times, treating it as wastewater would be very expensive. Top of Page
- What is nonpoint source pollution?Nonpoint source pollution is water pollution that is difficult to trace to a specific discharge point. Because it comes from many diverse sources, it is hard to control. Examples of common nonpoint source pollutants include fertilizers, pesticides, sediments, oils, salts, trace metals and litter. They come from farms, yards, roofs, construction sites, automobiles and streets.Top of Page
- What is impervious surface? “Impervious surface” as defined in the ordinance means a surface that has been compacted or covered so that it is highly resistant to infiltration by water. For purposes of this article, buildings, manmade structures, driveways, patio areas, roofs, concrete or asphalt sidewalks, parking lots or storage areas, and other bricked, oiled, macadam or hard-surfaced areas which impede passage of stormwaters into the earth’s surface are deemed to be impervious. Top of Page
CAN YOU PROVIDE MORE INFORMATION?
- Why are we being charged for stormwater (rain and snowmelt)?
Presently, the city spends about $2.6 million annually on stormwater issues. Uses of these funds range from maintenance of existing storm drains to construction of projects designed to eliminate localized flooding problems. Prior to 2002, the city’s stormwater program was limited to emergencies and specific complaints. As the facilities deteriorate over time, they become less effective in conveying stormwater. There are several major drainage ways that traverse through the city and which are in need of improvement. The improvements would reduce the threats to people, structures and real estate, reduce street flooding and stabilize drainage channels to reduce erosion. Approximately $50 million worth of construction improvements have been identified. In addition, in March, 2003, the city was required to apply for a stormwater permit from the State of Colorado and the EPA. The intent of this permit is to reduce the potential for pollution to enter our streams and creeks and to begin improving the water quality in those water bodies. Many of the existing programs will be expanded and additional maintenance of the existing stormwater infrastructure system is needed. This permit was mandated by Congress as part of the Clean Water Act, but was not funded. Greeley is required to comply just as other similar cities nationwide.Top of Page
- Why is the stormwater utility the best solution? Several alternatives were considered to fund the necessary improvements and maintenance of the stormwater system. The General Fund and the Capital Improvements Projects Program have historically been used to fund stormwater operations. However, these sources of revenue are used to fund many other city programs. In the past, the stormwater system has not been perceived to have a very high priority with respect to the other General Fund programs. Therefore, needed improvements and maintenance for the stormwater system are delayed due to a lack of available funds. Since the General Fund is limited to the amount of revenue it receives each year, boosting the stormwater funding will result in cuts in other General Fund programs such as street improvements and public safety (Police & Fire). Another option evaluated was using the existing water and sewer Funds. These funds receive revenue through the supply of potable water and treatment of wastewater. However, neither the amount of potable water used nor the amount of sewage produced by a property correlates to the amount of stormwater generated. Therefore, the use of water or wastewater rate structures to fund stormwater needs would not be equitable or fair. A stormwater utility is considered the fairest method to operate and maintain the city’s stormwater system, provide for the required water quality programs and expand work on existing flooding problems. Many other Colorado Front Range municipalities are using stormwater utilities; some have been in existence for over 20 years. Top of Page
- What is Composite Runoff Coefficient or C-Factor?C-Factor is the runoff coefficient. It is the ratio of the amount of excess rainfall or runoff to the amount of precipitation for a given time over a given area. Without getting into time and area, a very basic example might be: the C-Factor for pavement is 0.87; this means that for every 100 cups of water you pour on pavement (concrete or asphalt), 87 cups of water will run off of it. The C-factor for grass is 0.07. Again, for every 100 cups of water poured on it, 7 cups of water will run off of it. The Composite Runoff Coefficient or Composite C-Factor then is a weighted average of all areas and their corresponding C-factors that make up a parcel. Top of Page
- Will all properties have to pay?All developed properties will be charged a stormwater fee. Undeveloped lots and agriculture will be excluded since the amount of runoff from them is very small. Properties paying the fee will include privately owned parcels, non-profit organizations, commercial, industrial, office, government and residential property. Top of Page
- Will a fee be assessed against the street system? No, the street system acts as a part of the stormwater conveyance system just as storm drains and streams do. Without the streets, the city’s stormwater system would not function. In addition, the city’s revenue sources come from its residents. The residents will pay the same amount regardless if the street system is included or not.Top of Page
- Who can I contact for more information?You may contact Ellen Hine, Stormwater Technician at 970.336.4074 for more information. Top of Page
WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO PAY IF:
- I live on high ground?Every property in Greeley has stormwater runoff that contributes to existing water quantity and quality problems and contribute to the need to operate and maintain the storm drain system. Driveways, parking areas and rooftops in every part of the city contribute to the amount of water that must be managed. It is most equitable to have all developed properties pay a fee that is proportional to the amount of water that runs off of that property. Top of Page
- We’ve had a drainage problem in front of my house/in my neighborhood for years and the city has never done anything about it. When are you going to fix it?The city has a large backlog of drainage projects. It may even be one of these. In case it isn’t, contact Ellen Hine at 970.336.4074 for assistance. With the new stormwater utility, more and more of these problems will be corrected or improved.Top of Page
- My area of town is built out and has an adequate storm drain system?All properties in the city contribute stormwater to the system, so all should contribute to the cost of operating the system. A portion of the utility’s revenues will be used to maintain and to make water quality improvements to the existing system, including the one in your neighborhood. As the facilities in your part of town age, they require a higher level of maintenance and eventual replacement. There is also a need to begin water quality work and public education efforts that will help to improve the quality of the water in your local streams, lakes and creeks. The remaining revenue will be used for capital improvement projects that will reduce flooding threats to life and property that currently exist. While the stormwater system in your area may be adequate to protect your neighborhood, the storm flows may contribute to problems downstream. Top of Page
- We have a stormwater detention/retention pond? While basing the fee on impervious areas may not necessarily equate to the exact stormwater run-off on any one property during any one storm event, the impervious area often correlates with the amount of stormwater run-off over the long term and has been determined by the courts to be an equitable methodology. It is important to note that the stormwater fee pays for citywide improvements to the storm drain system and funds the federally mandated Stormwater Permit. Controlling floodwaters allows for transportation corridors and emergency traffic to remain unrestricted and benefits the health, safety and well being of all of Greeley’s businesses and citizens. Further, the State and the Environmental Protection Agency are requiring the city, as a whole, to obtain and implement programs under a Stormwater Permit to avoid penalties of $2,500 per day or more. These improvements and programs support and apply to the entire city. Because your property is within the Greeley city limits, a stormwater fee will be charged to fund these storm drain system improvements and the Stormwater Permit programs. Top of Page
- What about the part of the property that the detention/retention pond is on?There are no reductions or changes UNLESS you are 1) Residential Low Density and 2) there is a detention/retention pond for the subdivision within your property. You may then appeal the Composite C-factor for your property using a C-factor of 0 for the detention/retention pond area only. Top of Page
- We treat stormwater prior to discharging it from the property?Several factors were considered that could potentially affect the stormwater run-off from a property, such as the slope of the property, distance to natural or man-made surface water channels, remoteness, potential for contaminants in the run-off, effectiveness of detention basins, and whether treatment is applied to run-off prior to it leaving the property. Although all of these factors are important to the amount and quality of stormwater run-off generated by a property, it would be very expensive to implement and there could be a high degree of objectivity in the individual decisions. It is important to note that the stormwater fee pays for citywide improvements to the storm drain system and funds the federally mandated Stormwater Permit. Controlling floodwaters allows for transportation corridors and emergency traffic to remain unrestricted and benefits the health, safety and well being of all of Greeley’s businesses and citizens. Further, the State and the Environmental Protection Agency are requiring the city, as a whole, to obtain and implement programs under a Stormwater Permit to avoid penalties of $2,500 per day or more. These improvements and programs support and apply to the entire city. Because your property is within Greeley’s city limits, a stormwater fee based on the amount and type of pervious area will be charged to fund these storm drain system improvements and the Stormwater Permit programs. Top of Page
- I do not contribute to stormwater in Greeley!It is important to note that the stormwater fee pays for citywide improvements to the storm drain system and funds the federally mandated Stormwater Permit. Controlling floodwaters allows for transportation corridors and emergency traffic to remain unrestricted and benefits the health, safety and well being of all of Greeley’s businesses and citizens. Further, the State and the Environmental Protection Agency are requiring the city, as a whole, to obtain and implement programs under a Stormwater Permit to avoid penalties of $2,500 per day or more. These improvements and programs support and apply to the entire city. Because your property is within Greeley’s city limits, a stormwater fee based on the amount and type of pervious area will be charged to fund these storm drain system improvements and the Stormwater Permit programs. Top of Page
- I live outside the city but have city water.In January, 2004, certain properties outside the city limits, and in a Colorado Department of Health urbanized area, were charged the stormwater fee, pursuant to Weld County Code Section 8-7-10. Per an Intergovernmental Agreement, adopted on January 3, 2003, the City of Greeley will serve as the county's collecting agent for the stormwater utility fees as authorized by Weld County Code Section 8-7-10. The fee is reduced by 80% as compared to what residents of Greeley pay because some services are not provided by the City outside city limits. The proceeds from the stormwater utility fee will be retained by the City of Greeley as full compensation for the management of the Federal Mandated Stormwater Management Programs as referenced in both the Intergovernmental Agreement and Weld County Code Section 8-7-10. Top of Page
- My property is used for agriculture.All properties that were zoned as agriculture are exempt and were removed from the billing. If you have a parcel that you use for agriculture, but is not zoned agriculture, it will need to be reviewed by staff. Top of Page
WHY IS THE STORMWATER FEE A UTILITY; WHY DIDN’T WE VOTE ON IT?
- How can the city charge an additional fee without an election?
The stormwater utility is an enterprise fund under the State Constitution and does not require an election. The stormwater utility fee is not a tax, but a fee for service, just like your water and wastewater utilities. Citizens and businesses benefit from the stormwater utility through a better-maintained storm drain system, increased flood control, and improved surface water quality. We are just one of many cities along the Front Range that have implemented a stormwater utility fee to fund flood control projects and satisfy the new Stormwater Permit requirements. Top of Page
- Do other cities have stormwater utilities?Yes. The following table includes other Colorado cities that have stormwater utilities and their single-family residential fees. Loveland $10.39; Fort Collins $14.26; Windsor $3.98; Boulder $7.25; Longmont $7.77; Arvada $4.30; Greeley $5.61; Aurora $8.16; Golden $3.52; Denver $8.35; Littleton $2.00; Woodland Park $2.00; Lakewood $1.98; Westminster $3.00 Top of Page
- Is this utility a way for new developments to avoid their responsibilities for managing stormwater?No. All new development will still be required to follow existing city ordinances. Existing regulations require the developers to build, at their expense, storm drain systems and stormwater detention facilities to manage the runoff generated by their developments. Once a lot is developed, that lot will be subject to the same stormwater fee as all the existing lots. In fact, stormwater design criteria has become more stringent over the past two decades. Top of Page
- How can you do this? It’s a rip-off?The needs that the stormwater utility will address are very real. Citizens of Greeley are getting something for their money. First, there will be a better maintained storm drain system than in the past. Flood control projects will be completed instead of being delayed because funds have not been available. Further, the city will avoid $2,500 per day in fines that could be assessed by the Environmental Protection Agency or the State for not applying for or abiding by the required Stormwater Permit. Top of Page
WHAT ARE THE FEES ?
- How much money will the Stormwater Utility raise?The annual budget for 2014 is $4,020,325, broken down as follows: Stormwater Permit requirements $271,811; Maintenance and Street Sweeping Programs $1,143,921; Capital Improvement Programs $1,385,672; Administration Costs $194,282. Top of Page
- How much will I have to pay?An average single family home will be charged approximately $6.00 per month beginning in January, 2014. This example is for an average 8,000 SF lot. For all properties in Greeley, including commercial, the fee will increase or decrease with the size of the lot. The other factors that affect the fee are the land use and the rate factor. Top of Page
- Why differing land uses?A 2 acre parcel with a large building and paved parking lot will have a higher Composite C-Factor and more impact on the stormdrain system than a 2 acre lot with a small house on it. One is given a land use of Commercial Low Intensity with a C-factor of 0.65 and the other a land use of Residential Estate with a C-factor of 0.35. Top of Page
- What is the rate factor?The rate factor for 2014 is $0.001667 per SF beginning in January, 2014, for all land uses and all properties. Top of Page
- How did the city come up with this rate factor?City Management and the Stormwater Board determined that for an average 8,000 SF residential lot, the fee of $6.00 per month would be equitable. By calculating the formula backwards – $6.00 divided by 8,000 SF divided by .45 (C-factor for residential) = $0.001667 per SF. City Council approved this rate. Top of Page
- How can I calculate how much I pay?Basically, your fee per bill is Total Square Footage x C-Factor for your land use x $0.001667. This equation will give you an estimate. Due to limitations with Finance’s billing system, you will not get the exact amount. If you wish to calculate your fee, we have a package that was designed for appeals of the Composite C-Factor. This package will contain information regarding how the fee is calculated and a worksheet to help you do this. Top of Page
- What if my property is not typical for the land use? Wouldn’t this change the Composite Runoff Coefficient as well as my fee? Yes, it is possible for the Composite Runoff Coefficient to be atypical of the land use. For instance, a large lot with a very small house and the rest covered in vegetation or bare soil might have a significantly smaller Composite C-Factor than the normal residential lot and, therefore, could have a lower fee. Top of Page
- How will the fee be billed to me?The fee is added to the monthly water and sewer utility bills as a separate line item. Top of Page
- When will I receive my first bill?Billing started in September 2002. The billing cycle is a one-month cycle. The fee is added to your monthly water and sewer bill. Top of Page
- Will the fee change in the future?A majority of the revenue generated from the stormwater utility fee will be used on capital improvement projects, and it is anticipated that it will take at least 20 years to build the identified stormwater projects. By that time, the existing storm drain system may need upgrading and rehabilitation. Additionally, other problems may be identified as storms of sufficient magnitude occur and alert the city to them for corrective action. The remainder of the fee is to be used to meet the mandatory stormwater permit conditions. The city has reviewed the requirements of the permit, and believes its proposed program will meet those requirements. Top of Page
- I won’t pay!Because the stormwater utility fee will be posted on the water and sewer bill, the bill will not be considered paid until the whole bill is paid. Under the Stormwater Utility Ordinance, one can dispute the C-factor for their property through the appeals process. However, if a party does not have issue with the C-factor, ownership, or area of the property, and still does not pay the stormwater utility fee, the city may pursue any remedy available at law or equity to enforce and collect the service charge. The city may also recover, in addition to service charges due, all court costs, attorney's fees and interest on the amount owed. As a last possible resort, the Ordinance further declares that the city is able to levy a perpetual lien on the property until the fee is collected. Top of Page
I DISAGREE WITH HOW MY FEE WAS CALCULATED BECAUSE :
- I understood that all residential lots would be charged $4.90 per month.
No, an 8,000 SF residential lot is $6.00 per month. This was used as an example of what the typical residential lot would cost and also was the basis of the entire fee structure. All lots are calculated separately. If the lot is smaller that 8,000 SF then you will pay less and if it is larger than 8,000 SF you will pay more. Top of Page
- I disagree with the C-Factor or the land use the city has established for my property.If a property owner feels that the property is atypical of the designated land use, they will need to calculate the Composite C-Factor themselves or have an engineer or surveyor do this for them. The city has a package that will be sent upon request to the customer. This package contains information and a worksheet on how to calculate the Composite C-factor for your property. This will require the customer to measure the structures, pavement, sidewalks, and other impervious areas on the property, then fill out the worksheet. The worksheet is then returned to the city for consideration. It will be evaluated for accuracy and a determination made by City Staff whether the new factor is used in figuring the property’s stormwater utility fee.Top of Page
- I disagree with the total square footage of the property/with the ownership. Square footage of properties, as well as the ownership, was obtained from the County Assessor’s data. If you disagree with this information, you will need to supply the city with a plat, deed, legal description or some other document that provides the area or ownership discrepancies you wish to appeal.Top of Page
- I share my lot with others who should share in paying the bill.Only one water or sewer billing account may have been used for a property and, therefore, that account is receiving the stormwater billing for the entire parcel. In some cases, an agreement must be made between the party receiving the bill and all who may contribute to the stormwater on the property. Some properties will have more than one account and an equitable solution will need to be worked out between the accounts. The city takes the position that it is best if the property owner decides how to prorate the stormwater fee to contributing parties occupying the same parcel of property. Top of Page
- What is the process for figuring these situations out? The recommended distribution method of the stormwater fee is proration, based on the percent of area used to the total parcel area. Top of Page
I WANT TO APPEAL MY C-FACTOR: Stormwater Appeal Worksheet
- Will the city come out and calculate my Composite C-Factor for me?The city does not have the staff to look at every property and, therefore, it is the city’s intent to have the property owner measure the structures, pavement, bare ground, and packed gravel and calculate the Composite C-factor for their property. Top of Page
- How do I get a worksheet for calculating my Composite C-Factor? Stormwater Appeal WorksheetUpon request, the city will send you a package including a worksheet and information on how to calculate your Composite C-Factor. It is not difficult to do and City Staff will help you to understand the process.Top of Page
- Where do I send the worksheet when I finish it?The address is on the worksheet. You will send it to Ellen Hine, Stormwater Technician, City of Greeley 1001 9th Avenue Greeley, CO 80631 Top of Page
- What if I have questions on the worksheet? You may call Ellen Hine at 336.4074 for help. Top of Page
- What happens if I appeal and the city doesn’t approve it?There is a process that will be followed for appeals. If staff disagrees with your calculations they will contact you and explain why. If you cannot come to an agreement, the Stormwater Division Manager and the Public Works Director will then review the appeal. If an agreement cannot be reached at this level, the property owner can take the appeal to the Stormwater Board. Again, if no agreement is reached, the property owner can take the appeal to City Council. Top of Page