The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality stormwater permit requires the county to reduce pollutants in stormwater before flowing into nearby streams, lakes and rivers that lead to the Chesapeake Bay.
When it rains, millions of gallons of stormwater flow off our roofs, streets, and parking lots into the several hundred miles of pipes, ditches, and paved channels that carry stormwater to our streams and rivers transporting pollutants such as:
- Animal Waste
- Fertilizers and Pesticides
- Trash and Debris
- Vehicle Fluids
In efforts to comply with the permit and reduce the existing pollutants discharging to local waters and ultimately to the Chesapeake Bay, the county has developed a compliance plan that details the county’s program.
A stormwater utility was created in 2016 to support the compliance plan and meet its stormwater permit requirements. Across the nation, there are over 1,500 municipalities with dedicated fees for stormwater management programs. County residential and commercial properties pay a stormwater utility fee based on the amount of impervious area such as artificial structures (roads, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, etc.) that are covered by impenetrable materials (asphalt, concrete, brick, stone, rooftops, etc.). These are areas of significant contribution of stormwater pollutants on the property. This fee is included as a separate line item on the real estate tax bill.
The stormwater utility fee will provide funding to complete projects for compliance with the county's stormwater permit and Chesapeake Bay requirements. View current projects on the Capital Improvement Program map.
Properties Required to Pay the Stormwater Utility Fee
Developed residential and commercial (nonresidential) properties are subject to the stormwater utility fee. The stormwater utility fee is not a tax, but a fee based on the property’s impervious areas. If a property does not receive a real estate tax bill, a bill for the stormwater utility will be issued.
Neighborhoods with existing stormwater conveyance and retention or detention ponds still contribute runoff and pollution to the overall drainage system. The program’s costs are distributed to all county property owners as stormwater management is a countywide service.
Undeveloped property, defined as any property that has less than or equal to 250 square feet of impervious area, does not pay a stormwater utility fee. Additionally, federal, state, local and public entities that hold a permit to discharge stormwater are exempt.
Stormwater Utility Fee Calculation
The stormwater utility fee is based on impervious area represented as an equivalent residential unit (ERU), calculated as 2,800 square feet. An ERU is approximately equal to the average impervious area for all single family detached parcels in the county.
Impervious areas are artificial structures, such as pavements (roads, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots that are covered by impenetrable materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick or stone) and rooftops. Areas of significant contribution of stormwater pollutants are also impervious areas. These areas do not allow stormwater to soak into the ground, instead they carry runoff to local waterways.
The impervious area of a property is determined by using the following:
- Aerial Photography
- As-Built Drawings
- Building Permits
- Field Surveys
- Final Approved Site Plans
- Other Appropriate Engineering and Mapping Analysis Tools
The image below shows a commercial property fee example using aerial photography. The property is outlined in green and the impervious area is shown in red.
Residential Properties Fee Rates
Residential property owners pay $25 per year (one ERU) for single family detached homes.
Townhome and condominium owners pay $7.50 per year (30% of one ERU)
Commercial Properties Fee Rates
Commercial properties (e.g., nonresidential and rental multifamily properties) are charged based on the total amount of impervious area on the site and the resulting ERUs, at a rate of $25 per ERU per year.
Commercial properties that drain to stormwater management facilities or participate in pollution reduction programs receive a partial credit in the stormwater utility fee as outlined in the credit policy.
Commercial property that have made some improvements to the property that changed the impervious area (larger parking lot or building size) will have altered stormwater utility fees. Changes to fees will go into effect once the certificate of occupancy is issued or the land disturbance permit is closed. Environmental Engineering will forward any fee alterations to the Chesterfield County Treasurer for inclusion on the next real estate tax bill.
Stormwater Utility Fee Payments and Adjustments
The stormwater utility fee will be included as a separate line item on the real estate tax bill. If a property does not receive a real estate tax bill, a bill for the stormwater utility will be issued. It will be billed to the property owner of record.
The stormwater utility ordinance allows for property owners to petition for adjustments to their stormwater utility fee. Grounds for adjustments of the fee are limited to the following:
- An error was made regarding the calculation of the square footage of commercial properties. (The fee for developed residential properties is a flat fee and cannot be appealed.)
- An error was made regarding the calculation of the square footage of the impervious area.
- The property is exempt from the fee, but received a bill in error.
- The identification of the property owner billed is in error.
- An approved credit for commercial properties was incorrectly applied.
The property owner must complete and submit an application for adjustment (PDF) to the Department of Environmental Engineering. Applications may be submitted by:
Stormwater Utility Team
Department of Environmental Engineering
P.O. Box 40
Chesterfield, Virginia 23832-00400
Chesterfield County Community Development Building (3rd Floor)
Department of Environmental Engineering
9800 Government Center Pkwy
Chesterfield, VA 23832-00400