Stormwater Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about stormwater

Last updated Jul. 24, 2018 - 5:26 pm

Some answers to the most frequently asked stormwater questions.

Stormwater Billing & Fee FAQ's

When did the stormwater fee go into effect?
The City of Raleigh began collection of the stormwater fee on March 1, 2004.

Who has to pay the stormwater fee?
All owners or tenants of property within the City Limits of Raleigh with more than 400 sf of impervious area pay a stormwater fee. Properties outside of the City's corporate limits will not be subject to the fee.

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.

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.

How was the Single-Family Equivalent Unit (SFEU) developed?
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 does impervious area apply to the stormwater billing?
The billing of all properties (residential or commercial) is based on impervious area. Impervious area 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.

Why use "impervious area" 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 on the drainage infrastructure. The fee is set up so that properties that produce more runoff are assessed a greater stormwater fee.

Drainage & Flooding

How do I report a drainage concern?
Contact the Stormwater Division at 919-996-3779 or

Will the City of Raleigh Stormwater fix my drainage problem?

City of Raleigh Stormwater addresses flooding issues on public (City) streets and rights-of-way. The City will also address drainage issues on private property if the problem includes a public contribution of water and meets the criteria of structural flooding and/or severe erosion. For drainage assistance on private property, issues must meet the minimum criteria for assistance and owners must be willing to donate permanent drainage easements over the repairs (see Drainage Assistance Program for more information).

What is a drainage easement?
A drainage easement is a permanent attachment to a property deed which states that access to part of the property is dedicated for the purpose of maintaining and conveying drainage and for allowing the proper function of the drainage system. The drainage easement may include a culvert or drain which feeds into a drainage system or the easement may simply state that runoff needs to be allowed to flow freely over an area of the property.

Most drainage easements within the City of Raleigh are privately owned and the responsibility of the individual property owner(s) for maintenance, unless it is dedicated and accepted by the City of Raleigh. See Section 5 of the City’s Stormwater Drainage Assistance Policy, Resolution 2016-327 for more details. Citizens may also reference the City’s Unified Development Ordinance for what is and is not allowed within drainage easements.

Who can I call about a mosquito problem?
You can contact the Wake County Code Enforcement Coordinator at 919-856-2613 or the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 919-515-2813.

Do I live in a flood zone or flood prone area?
Property owners can determine if you live in a FEMA regulated flood zone by visiting the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program website (select Flood Risk Information System). You can also visit Wake County IMAPs. There are FEMA regulated Special Flood Hazard Areas as well as flood prone soils layers that you can pull up in your web browser for your property/neighborhood.

Am I responsible for the drainage issues on my property?
In general, unless drainage infrastructure is located within a City of Raleigh Public Drainage Easement, maintenance of drainage systems on private property is the responsibility of the property owner. See the Stormwater Drainage System Ownership Guide for more details. Some stormwater issues on private property may be eligible for City assistance under the CIP or Drainage Petition Programs.

When will the City complete my drainage issue? What is the status of my approved project?
Projects approved under the Drainage Assistance Program typically take anywhere from several months to several years to complete, depending on the nature/priority of the problems involved and the volume of projects the City currently has within the program. A list of the City’s current approved project backlog, ranked in order of priority, can be found here . You can contact the City at any time for details on the status of your project and an estimate of when it will be constructed.

Will the City of Raleigh remove downed trees, overgrown brush, or debris within the stream or stream buffer on my property?
The City does not maintain open channels or stream buffers on private property. Questions regarding stream buffers can be addressed to the North Carolina Division of Water Resources (NCDEQ).

Who do I contact with questions about the sanitary sewer easement on my property?
Contact the Public Utilities Department at 919-996-2332 with questions regarding sewer easements and utilities on your property.

My neighbor is impacting my yard drainage – who can I contact?
Issues involving drainage concerns due to private residences (i.e. overland flow from adjacent properties, drainage concerns caused by roofing or gutter problems, drainage caused by poor landscaping, wet areas due to underground springs or wetlands, etc.) are not eligible for City drainage assistance. You may contact City of Raleigh Housing and Neighborhoods Division to see if the issue might be deemed as a public nuisance.

How do I know if the street I live on is privately maintained or maintained by the City of Raleigh or the State (NCDOT)?
Reference the City of Raleigh’s Street Data Map Tool to determine if your street is maintained by the City, NCDOT or privately maintained.

What do I do about beavers?
The best way to prevent conflicts with beavers is to manage their population by letting licensed trappers remove them during the regulated trapping season (November 1 through March 31 statewide). You can also contact the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for more information.

Floods, FEMA, Floodplains, Flood Hazard FAQ's

What is a flood?
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) defines a "flood" as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from overflow of creeks and rivers or from the unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff from surface waters from any source.

What is a floodplain?
Any land area susceptible to being inundated by flood waters from any source.

What is a flood hazard area?
Areas identified on NFIP Flood Insurance Rate Maps Areas of flood hazard soils shown on the Wake county Soil Survey Areas identified on City of Raleigh drainage basin maps and flood studies

How do I find out if my property is located in a floodplain?
Determine if your property is located in a FEMA mapped floodplain.

Your property may be located in a flood plain designated by the City of Raleigh based on completed flood studies. Contact the Stormwater Division at 919-996-3777 to inquire.

Can anyone buy flood insurance?
Yes, anyone is can buy flood insurance and you do not have to live in the floodplain to qualify for flood insurance.

What is FEMA?
FEMA is the acronym for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Since March of 2003, it has been a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA is the administrator for the National Flood Insurance Program, (NFIP).

Stormwater Development FAQ's

When and why is a surety required?
The City requires two types of sureties, an Erosion Control Surety and a Stormwater Control Measure Surety. Sureties provide financial protection for the City in case a site is not fully built as indicated on the approved construction documents.

An Erosion Control surety is required for any site requiring a grading permit with more than 12,000 square feet of disturbance. The Surety is based on $1,000 per acre of disturbed area. It must be processed and executed prior to the issuance of a grading permit.

A Stormwater Control Measure (SCM) Surety is required prior to issuance of a building permit. This surety is required for any new SCM on site, as well as any modification to an existing SCM, in the amount of 125% of the SCM construction cost based on an estimate from the professional engineer. Once as-builts are accepted by the Stormwater Engineers, the surety will be released.

How do I set up a surety?
To set up a new surety, please contact Jonathan McNeill at 919-996-3776. He will provide you with the necessary information to successfully complete the surety documentation.

Who do I contact if I am experiencing flooding on my property due to new construction in my area?
Stormwater Inspections, 919-996-3940.

Stormwater Quality & Streams

In what ways is stormwater runoff regulated in Raleigh?
The runoff is regulated.

In Raleigh, are stormwater and wastewater collected in the same pipes? No, they are separate systems: sanitary sewage system and the stormwater drainage system.
Are they treated before flowing into streams? The sanitary sewage system flows to a wastewater treatment plant before being released for use. The stormwater drainage system does not go to a treatment plant, stormwater runoff will flow directly to the nearest waterway.

Can I capture stormwater runoff form my roof and use it for something?
Yes, you can disconnect your downspouts and re-route the flow to a rain barrel or cistern. The water you capture can then be re-used for example: watering plants, yards and washing cars. It cannot be used as drinking water. For more information about capturing and re-using stormwater runoff from your property please view our Raleigh Rainwater Rewards information.

What does the City do to keep track of and improve the health of our streams?
The Stormwater Management Division operates three primary programs to monitor stormwater pollution and ambient stream conditions throughout Raleigh. NPDES Monitoring Program, Benthic Macroinvertebrate Monitoring Program, BMP Monitoring Program.

What happens when wastes or chemicals are spilled or dumped into storm drains in Raleigh?
Dumping of anything other than stormwater runoff into the City’s Stormwater Drainage System, or a waterway of any kind is an Illegal act and fines can be issued in accordance with the City’s Illegal Discharge Ordinance. If a chemical spill occurs due to an accident, the area is contained and then cleaned up by a professional company.

I’ve heard about green infrastructure and low impact development in Raleigh. What are they, and what do they accomplish?
Green infrastructure, (GI) and low impact development, (LID) are simply planning and designing and implementing a way to keep the rainfall on-site as much as possible, mimicking the flow of water in a natural setting thus reducing the amount of polluted runoff from a site. By using these techniques we help to improve the health of our local waterbodies.

How can organizations and individuals help make stormwater runoff cleaner and streams healthier?
The Division manages four Volunteer programs where citizens actively participate in monitoring, cleaning and educating they are: Adopt-a-Stream, Stream Monitoring, Storm Drain Marking and Foster-a-Stream.

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