The Drainage System Utility Fee funds the Coeur d’Alene Drainage Utility, which is responsible for operating and maintaining the city’s drainage system, which provides drainage services to propertiers in the city.
A portion of the city’s drainage system (Zone 1) drains to Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane River, which are surface waters of the United States. This portion of the system is regulated as a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting system. The EPA places restrictions, conditions, and requirements on the NPDES permits that require systematic maintenance and operational controls to limit the amount of pollutants that are discharged into the waters of the United States, which creates additional costs for providing the service of removing and disposing of stormwater leaving properties within the city.
The remaining portion of the city’s system (Zone 2) collects and disposes of storm and other surface drainage waters leaving properties in the city by collecting the water in a series of curbs, gutters, ditches, and swales and conveying it to shallow injection wells. This part of the system is regulated by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) and the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR). Complying with IDEQ and IDWR’s requirements creates regulatory, maintenance, and other costs for providing the service of disposing of stormwater leaving properties within the city.
Just like water, sewer, gas, and other vital utility services, users are charged a fee for the service of controlling stormwater. The Drainage System Utility Fee applies to all properties, including homes, businesses, and non-profit organizations that use the system. These fees provide a dedicated revenue stream, which is for use only on stormwater system maintenance, operations, systems planning, and construction.
The Drainage System Utility Fee provides funding for preventive maintenance, repair, and improvements to the city’s storm drain system. With these programs, storm drain systems in areas of the city are systematically cleaned and repaired on a periodic basis before serious problems occur. Funding from the Drainage Utility allows for improvements that directly target local flooding problems created by runoff from property in the city.
Stormwater runoff is the portion of rain and melting snow that does not soak into the ground. It runs off driveways, parking lots, roads, and other impervious surfaces that do not allow the water to soak into the ground below.
Impervious areas are surfaces that have been paved or otherwise covered with material that is resistant to infiltration by water or is compacted, hindering infiltration of stormwater into the ground. Impervious surfaces are mainly constructed surfaces – rooftops, sidewalks, roads, and parking lots – covered by impenetrable materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick, and stone. The impervious surface is NOT equal to the inside square footage of a structure.
Developed property generates more stormwater runoff with a larger amount of pollutants than land in its natural state. Impervious property also sheds stormwater that would have been absorbed prior to development. The amount of Drainage System Utility Fee charged to a property correlates directly to the impervious area on that property that drains into the system, thereby ensuring that the fees are charged fairly and equitably.
City staff conducted GIS and site surveys of 318 single family residences, including duplexes, throughout the city to evaluate the amount of impervious surface that drains to the city’s system. Based on this work, the city determined that an average of 786 square feet of impervious surface drains to the city’s system from single family residential properties (the value of one equivalent service unit (ESU). The City determined that the difference in the amount of impervious surface that drains to the city’s system between developed single family residences is not significant and the cost of administering an individual fee for each single family lot would be excessive given the nominal differences. As such, the fee for single family residences and duplexes is based on the average amount of impervious surface that drains to the city's system for the single family homes.
Each of the 1,526 other developed properties in the city that are not single family residences have been individually surveyed to determine the specific amount of impervious surface that drains to the city’s system from each property. Given the wide variation in sizes of all other developed properties that are not single family residences, and the relatively small number of such properties, the city has determined that it is feasible and equitable to charge each developed non-single family residential property a fee based on its impervious surface that drains to the city’s system. The monthly utility fee for these properties is based upon a calculation of total impervious surface on the property that drains to the city’s drainage system divided by the ESU value to determine the Equivalent Service Unit (ESU) quantity for the property in question. The ESU quantity is multiplied by the Drainage System Utility Fee in the correct zone to determine the monthly service charge for the property in question.
Zone 1, which consists of primarily the southern section of the city, has a stormwater system that is served primarily by pipes that allow stormwater to flow into the lake and river.
Zone 2, which consists of primarily the northern section, has a stormwater system that is served primarily by grassy swales.
The costs of maintenance, replacement, and compliance with federal regulations for each of these zones is different and, therefore, it was most equitable to create the two zones for purposes of establishing the Drainage System Utility Fee.
The rate for each zone is based on the costs and the Equivalent Service Units (ESUs) in each zone. The costs for each zone are similar, but there are fewer ESUs in Zone 2, which results in a slightly higher rate.
The Drainage System Utility Fee has nothing to do with potable (drinking) water or wastewater. The charge is for the stormwater coming off your property.
Yes. Compacted gravel is considered an impervious surface. Any surface covered with gravel where cars or other equipment drive or park over them is considered impervious.
- Improvement of water quality by reducing non-point source pollution (NPS).
- Prevention of stream bank erosion.
- Healthier habitats for the Coeur d’Alene Lake and associated tributaries.
- Cleaner waterfront and park areas.
- Reduces chance of sewer back-ups.
Non-point source (NPS) pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many different sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground sources of drinking water. These pollutants include:
- Excess fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas.
- Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production.
- Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding stream banks.
- Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines.
- Bacterial and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems.
Yes. There are numerous stormwater utilities nationwide. The municipalities that adopted stormwater (drainage) utilities selected this approach because it is both fair and equitable.
All developed properties that use the system are charged a Drainage System Utility Fee. Properties paying the fee will include residential properties, commercial and industrial properties, non-profit organizations, schools, colleges/universities, city, county, state, and federal owned properties and parking lots.
Yes, because it is a fee for service, not a tax. The Drainage System Utility Fee is based on the amount of runoff from impervious surface area on a property to the city drainage system.
Undeveloped properties and those retaining all stormwater on site are excluded from paying the Drainage System Utility Fee.
Yes, if that property contains impervious area that drains to the system.
If stormwater runs off your property, the city has to collect and dispose of that runoff in a manner that complies with Federal and State regulations. It is more equitable to charge a fee to utility customers for providing that service than to levy taxes on all residents (including those that do not use the system) to fund the maintenance and operation of the drainage system.
One Equivalent Residential Unit (ESU) was determined to equal the average amount of impervious area draining to the city system from a typical single family resident. It is equal to 786 square feet.
The fee is included in your utility bill from the City of Coeur d’Alene, along with sewer, water, street lights, and garbage fees.
- It is a more equitable system: all the contributors to stormwater runoff share the costs of maintaining and improving the storm drainage system.
- It is a stable level of funding: ensures that stormwater management receives adequate support, independent of the city’s tax rate and General Fund.
- It is a dedicated fund: revenues are used solely for stormwater management.
The water that leaves your property drains into a city maintained drainage facility. You are assessed a fee because this runoff contributes to the need for maintenance and regulatory compliance.
No. The responsibility for maintaining the ditch, pipe or channel falls on the property owner. Drainage Utility crews can only maintain ditches or other drainage facilities on private property if the facility is within the drainage easement granted to the city and if the facility carries runoff from upstream property. Without an easement, the responsibility for maintaining the ditch, pipe, or channel falls on the property owner.
Drainage easements must be accessible to maintenance crews at all times. Any owner-initiated obstruction of an easement (such as a shed, fence, patio, or other structure) is subject to removal at the owner’s expense.
The catch basins and manholes are cleaned every year. The pipes are cleaned and inspected as necessary. Swales are replaced or repaired as they lose their ability to percolate water.
The information was obtained from base mapping and verified using aerial photos.
The impervious areas for properties other than single family residences are updated whenever permits are issued for improvements that change the amount of impervious surface draining into the system.
Customers who do not agree with the Drainage System Utility Fee they receive should first contact Utility Billing at 769-2223 or 769-2227. City representatives can answer your stormwater questions. If, after contacting the city, you still feel your Drainage System Utility Fee is incorrect, you may request that the fee be recalculated and ultimately, you may appeal the fee to the City Council. Forms can be found by clicking HERE or a customer service representative can mail or fax the form to a property owner.
Owners who wish to appeal their Drainage System Utility Fee may dispute the following:
- Parcel ownership
- Amount of impervious area/incorrect calculation
- Stormwater classification
Note: The burden of proving the appeal is on the property owner. A dispute of impervious area must be proven using drawings and measurements.
It’s not necessarily the rain itself that’s harmful. It’s the volume of runoff generated by development, and the waste and pollutants that the rain picks up after it hits the roofs, driveways, parking lots, and other impervious area in developed communities.
In compliance with the provisions of the Clean Water Act, as amended by the Water Quality Act of 1987, Region 10 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has requires the city to meet certain conditions of its permit. The permit has many requirements, which include:
- Develop, implement, and enforce a stormwater management program which is to include best management practices (BMPs), system design, engineering methods, and other provisions appropriate to control discharges of pollutants from the city’s drainage system.
- Develop, implement, and report on public education and involvement programs concerning the impact of stormwater discharges on city water bodies.
- Develop and implement a plan to detect and eliminate illicit discharges into the city’s drainage system.
- Develop and implement ordinances or other regulatory mechanisms to prohit non-stormwater discharges into the city’s drainage system.
- Map the city’s drainage system.
- Implement dry weather field screening and testing of all the city’s drainage outfalls for non-stormwater flows.
- Inventory and report to the EPA all industrial facilities that discharge directly to the city’s drainage system or directly to the waters of the United States located within the city’s jurisdiction.
- Implement and enforce a program to address and regulate post-construction stormwater runoff from new development and redevelopment projects that disturb greater than or equal to one acre.
- Develop and implement an operation and maintenance program intended to prevent or reduce pollutant runoff from city operations.
- Conduct discharge monitoring and reporting for the city’s drainage system; and
- Develop and implement the monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting, training and education requirements of the permit.
Failure by the city to comply with the requirements of the permit subject the city to civil and criminal penalties under federal law which would place the city’s resources and staff at financial and criminal risk and subject the taxpayers to additional tax burdens.
The Drainage System Utility Fee will assist the city in raising funds to comply with the requirements of its stormwater permit.