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.
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.
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:
Owners who wish to appeal their Drainage System Utility Fee may dispute the following:
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:
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.