About the Project
The County is undertaking a Stormwater Utility Feasibility Study to explore a different option for funding the Stormwater program. Currently, the stormwater program is funded through the Sanitary District Tax based on a property’s real estate assessment. A stormwater utility, however, is calculated based on the amount of impervious surface on a parcel (hard surfaces like roofs and driveways that don’t let rain runoff soak into the ground). Properties with more hard surfaces that contribute more stormwater runoff to the system would pay a higher rate.
One benefit of a stormwater utility is that it is calculated based on usage of the system, rather than based on the property’s real estate assessment. It also allows localities to incentivize behavior by offering credits to customers who reduce their properties’ runoff to stormwater system.
Many Virginia communities have transitioned to a stormwater utility to fund their stormwater program, instead of a Sanitary District Tax or general fund revenues. There are 21 Virginia Municipal Stormwater Association (VAMSA) Jurisdictions, 19 of which have created formal stormwater utilities, leaving Fairfax County and Arlington as tax districts.
Need for Increased Investment
As the July 2019 storm demonstrated, Arlington’s current stormwater infrastructure is not able to sufficiently handle more frequent and intense storms. Over the last year, staff have identified the types of significant investments and the amount of time required to ensure watershed scale stormwater system improvement. Given the complexity, scale, and scope of these investments, these initial capacity improvement projects will take place over at least the next 10 years. The County must also invest in water quality improvement projects required to meet the Chesapeake Bay requirements in the County’s stormwater permit.
Given the increase in funding required for the Stormwater program over the next 10 years, the County is examining the benefits, concerns, and process for various funding methods – including staying with the current Sanitary District Tax or moving to stormwater utility funding model.
Feasibility Study Considerations
- Current funding methods, needs and levels
- Different types of funding mechanisms
- How customers might be charged for stormwater services
- Comparing Arlington County with other utilities in Virginia
- Analysis of customer impacts using different types of rate structures employed by other utilities
Below is the overview and timeline for the feasibility study.
Phase 1 – Research and feasibility analysis: Summer- Fall, 2020
- Analysis of how a stormwater utility would affect different types of customers
- Examination of different rate structures
- Initial cost estimates for implementation and ongoing utility operation
- Final Stormwater Utility Feasibility Study Report
Phase 2 – Optional at direction of County Board- Development of Utility and Implementation: Summer 2022-2023
- This phase includes implementation of a stormwater utility, including robust public engagement
In developing the stormwater utility, the County will engage with customers from a broad and representative range of backgrounds and interests via online feedback forms, public forums, and other engagement methods.