We hope the following answers to common questions will help you understand the importance of the stormwater utility’s role in protecting our bays, lakes, rivers, streams, and estuaries from stormwater pollution and fixing our flooding problems.
A stormwater utility fee is a user fee charged for stormwater services. It is similar to a fee for garbage collection or the availability of water or sewer service at your house or business.
The list of services related to stormwater management is lengthy; but, in summary, the City maintains existing stormwater facilities (such as public ponds, ditches and culverts), builds new runoff controls to improve water quality and reduce flooding, and reviews new development for compliance with City standards. The City also maintains for the benefit of all property owners the federally mandated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that is required to discharge stormwater runoff to natural water bodies.
The stormwater program is charged with the maintenance and improvement of the City’s stormwater systems located within the public rights-of-way. These systems consist of storm drains, catch basins, underground pipes, open channels, culverts, creeks, and canals.
The stormwater program focuses on reducing the potential for the loss of life or damage to property due to flooding and improving and protecting water quality.
The stormwater utility fee will in no way be related to the amount of rainfall as rain is a natural phenomenon. With the addition of impervious areas, additional runoff has been created that can cause flooding, erosion and pollution. The fee funds ongoing maintenance of the City-maintained storm drainage infrastructure, as well as other water quality improvements and flood hazard mitigation programs.
Because the stormwater utility fee is not based upon the frequency or amount of rainfall received, the stormwater utility fee will be charged regardless of rainfall. In fact, the dry season is the best time to fix, repair, and / or construct new improvements to address stormwater problems.
By establishing a dedicated funding source through stormwater utility fees, the City can ensure that the revenue required for managing and maintaining this important system is available. A fee based on impervious surface area is an equitable way to allocate costs and collect revenues for this program.
No. The revenues will be placed in a separate fund that, by ordinance, can only be spent for stormwater activities. This is one of the major advantages of this fee – it can only be used to deal with stormwater management issues.
Stormwater runoff is the water that flows off roofs, driveways, parking lots, streets, and other hard surfaces during rain storms. Rather than being absorbed into the ground, it pours into ditches, culverts, catch basins and storm sewers. It often does not receive any treatment to remove pollutants before entering the streams, lakes, and bays.
Stormwater can carry harmful pollutants, cause flooding, erode topsoil and stream banks and destroy aquatic habitats.
Water pollution is difficult to trace to a specific discharge point. Because it comes from many diverse sources, it is hard to control. Examples of common pollutants include fertilizers, pesticides, pet wastes, sediments, oils, salts, trace metals and litter. They come from farms, yards, roofs, construction sites, automobiles, and streets.
Drainage problems may include roadway or structural flooding, clogged or failing underground pipes and culverts, stream bank erosion and pollution affecting a stream.
Stormwater detention ponds do provide some benefits to the City by providing treatment and slowing down the stormwater runoff that enters the City-maintained stormwater system. Private systems discharge to the public system and rely on the City-maintained stormwater system functioning properly.
The City is still required to comply with federal stormwater regulations, and proactively plan and manage the operation and maintenance of the City’s stormwater system. The City is developing a Credit Policy that provides a partial fee credit to customers that own and maintain detention ponds that provide benefits for the system.
An Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) is a unit of measure for stormwater utilities used to calculate a fee. The ERU was generated by calculating the average amount of impervious surface area on a single-family residential property (in square feet) within the City of Bonita Springs. The ERU is set at 4,500 square feet of impervious area for single family parcels.
If you are having issues with your HOA not maintaining their private system appropriately, please contact the City by phone at (239)-949-6246. We are more than willing to work with our community to ensure you have a fully functioning stormwater system.
Please contact the City by phone at (239)-949-6246 if you experience any flooding issues.
Please contact the City by phone at (239)-949-6246 if you see any broken structures, pipes, etc. or clogged pipes, structures, etc.
The City is using the tax bill to “piggy-back” the stormwater utility fee because it saves billing costs.
This is a question for your tax advisor. However, in general for a residential property, it is not a valid income tax deduction for your personal taxes. For a business, the fee may be deductible – please contact your accountant or income tax preparer for advice.
An impervious surface is any hard surface that does not readily absorb water and impedes the natural flow of water into the soil. In general, impervious surfaces include roadways, building roofs, parking lots, and basketball or tennis courts.
Impervious area is estimated using existing Lee County Property Appraiser information combined with remote sensing tools.
Using a fee structure based on impervious surfaces will allow for a more equitable method of allocating the costs of stormwater services among the properties that benefit from the service. Each customer will be charged based on the impervious surface of their property.
A property’s value does not affect runoff, so property taxes are not the most equitable way to pay for stormwater services. For example, a high-rise building and a shopping mall may have similar appraised value and pay similar property taxes. However, the shopping mall produces much more runoff because of the amount of parking and rooftops. The fee system will ensure the customers pay based on the amount of runoff they produce.
In Florida, it has been estimated that there are over 180 cities and counties with a stormwater fee.
The revenues from this fee will be used to provide maintenance and repairs of the stormwater system, improve water quality and reduce pollution, reduce sedimentation and erosion, and provide better planning for the future.
Because there are numerous areas in the City that have major flooding problems, you may not see improvements in your area immediately. This does not mean that they will never be fixed, but rather another area has more severe flooding issues that need to be addressed first.
Eligible properties under the proposed program are being identified to receive a Stormwater Utility Mitigation Credit. If you believe you should have a credit, please contact the City by phone at (239)-949-6246. Please note single family homes not in HOA are not eligible at this time.
Properties that are part of a private Stormwater Management System (most HOAs and COAs), Direct Discharges to approved water bodies and bona fide Agriculture properties. Other properties such as single-family homes that are not part of a HOA may become eligible for a credit at a later date for implementing various low impact design methods or water quality testing and improvements, however that is not available at this time.
We would recommend that you first contact your HOA president or Board to see if they are already engaged in the SWU Mitigation Credit application process. If you find out that the HOA has not begun the process, you can either provide our contact information to your HOA or feel free to contact the City by phone at (239)-949-6246.