Stormwater Utility Fee Information

Common Questions on billing, fees, program, credits and exemptions

Last updated Dec. 22, 2015 - 11:38 am

The Single-family rate (one dwelling on one parcel) consists of five tiers:

  • Tier One-400 to 1000 square feet = $1.60/month
  • Tier Two-1,001 to 3,870 square feet = $4.00/month
  • Tier Three-3,871 to 6,620 square feet = $6.80/month
  • Tier Four-6,621 to 9,500 square feet = $11.60/month
  • Tier Five-Over 9,500 square feet is billed at the commercial rate= Total Impervious surfaces divided by 2,260 (1 SFEU) times $4 = monthly fee

The Commercial rate (e.g. multifamily, office, institutional, commercial industrial land uses; including single family parcels over 9,500 square feet)

  • $4 per 2,260 square feet of impervious surfaces
  • A commercial fee is calculated by the following formula. Total Impervious surfaces divided by 2,260 (1 SFEU) times $4 = monthly fee

One Single-Family Equivalent Unit (SFEU) represents the median impervious surface area found on a single-family property.

Note: properties with less than 400 square feet of impervious surfaces are not subject to a Stormwater Utility fee.


How and where can I pay my City Stormwater Utility bill?
The City offers a variety of payment options:

  • Online
  • Direct debit
  • Phone: 919-996-3245
  • Mail
  • In person

How often are customers billed?
Stormwater Utility fee customers are billed monthly, on the same bill with their water and sewer services.

Customers who do not receive water and sewer services from the City will receive a stormwater services bill on the same monthly billing cycle.

How does impervious area apply to the stormwater billing?
The billing of all properties (residential or commercial) is based on impervious area. Impervious surface is a term used to refer to hard surfaces on a property that do not allow rain to penetrate all the way to the ground. Roofs, garages, carports, storage sheds, commercial buildings and concrete, gravel, or asphalt driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, and patios are all considered impervious areas.

If you do not agree with the impervious area measurement, you should contact the Stormwater Management Division at 919-996-3940 or via email.

What happens if I do not pay my stormwater bill?
If you have a City water/sewer account, then the water can be shut off until payment is received. If you do not have a City water/sewer account, then your bill may be passed on to a collection agency and reported to the Credit Bureau. You risk having all of your City services stopped, including water if you are a water customer. In addition, the City could file civil charges to collect. The stormwater fee is paid first, then the solid waste, and finally water and sewer fees. Any partial payment of your water and sewer payment could result in having all of your City services stopped.

Who is billed for stormwater?
All property owners within the City of Raleigh who have impervious surfaces (i.e. roofs, driveways, etc.) on their property pay a stormwater fee.

Do I have to pay the stormwater fee if I have my own well and septic system?
Yes. The stormwater fee relates to the stormwater drainage system, which is completely separate from the water and sanitary sewer system. The stormwater fee is based upon how much stormwater runoff your property can generate, thereby contributing to the community's drainage problems.

Do I pay a stormwater fee if I live in a condo?
Yes. Stormwater bills are sent to the owner of each condominium unit.

Am I still charged even if it does not rain for a long time?
Because stormwater charges are not based upon the frequency or amount of rainfall received, the stormwater fee is administered regardless of rainfall. Whether the city is experiencing drought conditions or torrential rains, ongoing efforts to maintain and implement capital improvements to the entire storm drainage infrastructure continue while the stormwater fee remains the same.

I rent the house that I live in, so why am I being charged?
Responsibility for utility services is assigned by the City to the user of the property. At some times, that user is the owner and, at others, it is a renter. You should contact your landlord with any concerns regarding any responsibility of fee payment.

I have a gravel driveway and no gutter drains that go to the street. Why do I have to pay for everyone else?
Gravel is an impervious surface. Like concrete or asphalt, it functions as a barrier to absorption and places a demand on the storm drainage infrastructure. This demand on the system is what the stormwater fee pays for. Anyone who drives a car on any city-maintained street contributes to stormwater runoff problems that results in pollution from cars, such as brake dust, gasoline and oil leaks and the stormwater runoff from the impervious area of the street.


How did the City determine impervious surface area?
For single-family homes, a statistical sampling was taken of representative properties in Raleigh. The impervious area of each was measured and was used to generate an estimate of the median impervious area for a typical single family home. For businesses and other properties, the City measured the impervious area using actual aerial survey data.

How is the residential stormwater fee determined?
The fee structure reflects the amount of runoff each property contributes to the community's stormwater runoff problem. The residential charge is based on the amount of hard surface (impervious) area based on a statistical sample of single-family residential homes in Raleigh. The median size home was used as the basis for the fee structure.

Do commercial properties pay a stormwater fee?
Yes. The stormwater fee for commercial, industrial and multifamily properties is determined by the proportional amount of impervious surface as compared to the median residential property.

Is the stormwater charge tax deductible?
The Internal Revenue Service does not consider the stormwater fee to be tax deductible for homeowners but it may be deducted for other types of properties such as commercial properties and businesses.

Why is there a stormwater fee instead of a tax?
A property's value does not affect runoff, so property taxes are not the most equitable way to pay for stormwater services. For example, a high-rise building and a shopping mall may have similar value and pay similar property taxes. However, the shopping center produces more runoff because of the amount of parking and rooftops. The fee system ensures the shopping center pays a higher stormwater fee than the high rise.

Is the City fee influenced by the amount of rain that falls?
While the stormwater program is in place to manage the pollution and runoff carried by rainwater, the fee is in no way related to the amount of rain that falls. The fee is in place to fund the ongoing maintenance and capital improvements to the entire storm drainage infrastructure, as well as other water quality improvement and flood hazard mitigation programs.


When did the stormwater fee go into effect?
The City of Raleigh began collection of the stormwater fee on March 1, 2004. All owners or tenants of developed property within the City Limits are billed for these fees. Properties outside of the City's corporate limits will not be subject to the fee. The City has revised the stormwater utility fee structure for single-family homes with impervious surfaces larger than 6,620 square feet. The new fee structure was implemented on the July 2008 utility bills.

Why use "impervious surfaces" in determining stormwater charges?
The fee structure reflects the amount of runoff each property contributes to the community's stormwater runoff problem. The more hard (impervious) surface area on a property, the greater the amount of stormwater that runs off into our culverts and streams. Thus, the greater the demand is on the drainage infrastructure. The fee is set up so that properties that produce more runoff are assessed a greater stormwater fee.

How is the amount of impervious surface area on my property determined?
Tax records and aerial photographs are used to determine the amount of hard surfaces on each property.

Hasn't the City always had storm drains?
The City has had storm drains for a long time. However, recent federal regulations requiring a comprehensive stormwater quality management program necessitate that the City take a more active role in managing stormwater. The utility fee enables the City to meet its responsibilities to manage the storm drainage system more closely, study the contents of stormwater, seek out and eliminate illicit connections and illegal discharges, enforce codes more strictly, and facilitate public awareness.

How was the stormwater rate for household utility fees developed?
Annual stormwater program costs were divided by total impervious area. A statistical sampling was taken of representative properties in Raleigh. Each property was measured and a median impervious surface area was determined to be 2,260 square feet. Therefore, 2,260 sq. ft. equals one Single-Family Equivalent Unit (SFEU).

How has the stormwater rate on my utility bill been established?
The monthly stormwater utility fee is calculated based on the amount of impervious surface on a developed parcel. Impervious surface is any hard surface that does not readily absorb water and impedes the natural infiltration of water into the soil. Common examples of impervious surfaces are roofs, driveways, parking areas, sidewalks, patios, decks, tennis courts, concrete or asphalt streets, and compacted gravel surfaces. In addition to single-family homes, the stormwater utility fee is assessed on multifamily, commercial and industrial properties. Fees fall into one of two rate categories; single-family or commercial. The current rates went into effect in July of 2008.


Why are churches and other tax-exempt properties required to pay?
All properties within Raleigh, including Federal, State and City owned properties that have impervious surface must pay regardless of ownership or tax status. All impervious surfaces contribute to pollution and flooding problems and, therefore, all property owners should pay their share of the costs.

How can I be exempted from the stormwater charges?
The only properties exempt from stormwater service charges are those that have less than 400 square feet of total impervious surface. All other property owners cannot be exempted unless they remove all structures and other impervious materials from the property, and re-seed and re-plant it, returning a parcel to its natural state.


Can I get a stormwater fee credit?
The fee credit applies to properties that reduce the peak flow rate and volume of stormwater runoff from their site. Credits will not be applied for any properties with delinquent stormwater fees. Single-family properties do not qualify for a fee credit due to the limited available land area to place qualifying stormwater control structures.

Do I have to pay the stormwater fee on undeveloped lake property?
No. The stormwater fee is not assessed for water bodies.

Can I get a credit if my business has installed stormwater controls?
Your business may qualify for a fee credit. There is a detailed process requiring engineering calculations for obtaining credits. A stormwater fee credit application should be completed by a professional engineer. A pre-submittal meeting is recommended.

I have a detention pond on my property already. Do I automatically receive a credit?
No. You must apply for a fee credit and the detention of stormwater must exceed city standards. The credit application booklet describes standards that must be met in order to determine the credit percentage for your particular detention facility. You may find as part of your engineer's analysis that you could improve your detention facility and get a higher credit.

Why do I have to hire an engineer to design stormwater controls?
An engineer is needed in order to properly design holding ponds, and other structures to hold back the water and pollutants.

How do I apply for a stormwater fee credit?
To request a stormwater fee credit application or for more information contact Stormwater Management Division at 919-996-3940 or via email

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