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1. What is stormwater and why does it matter?   Stormwater includes rainwater runoff, snow melt, or other waters that do not soak into the ground.  It flows from rooftops, over paved areas (impervious surfaces), bare soil, and through sloped lawns and greenspace.  As it flows, stormwater picks up and carries soil, pet manure, salt, fertilizers, pesticides, grease and oils, leaves, litter and other pollution sources. Eventually, this water makes it into streams, rivers, and lakes with everything it picked up along the way. These materials can be harmful to the water quality of these water bodies. Stormwater drains and ditches along the roadside are meant to control the flow of stormwater and keep it from picking up too many harmful materials. Most properties contribute to stormwater runoff and everyone benefits from improved stormwater management and water quality!

2. What is an impervious surface?  Impervious surfaces are hard surfaces (such as rooftops, streets, parking lots, driveways, patios, asphalt, concrete, compacted gravel, and other paved areas).  When stormwater hits an impervious surface, it runs off and does not soak into the ground.

3. What is a stormwater utility?  A stormwater utility is a fair, equitable, and stable way to collect revenue to pay for these compliance costs.  A stormwater utility will provide a dedicated revenue source for stormwater management. A fee is charged to property owners in order to ensure continued use and upkeep of stormwater management systems.  A fee is charged to all property owners with impervious surfaces no matter their tax status due to their potential contribution to stormwater pollution.

4. Why is Durham County charging this fee?  Currently, the County has no designated way to pay for the mandated requirements of the State’s Nutrient Management Rules, which require jurisdictions to complete and pay for certain activities to protect water quality. Meeting these requirements will require significant effort and funding by Durham County.

5. How much is it going to cost?  It is estimated that the County stormwater program, including costs associated with compliance with the State’s Nutrient Management Rules, will be $1.7 Million annually.  

6. How will the fee be calculated?  The amount of the fee is determined for each property owner based on the amount of their land that is covered by buildings, concrete or other surfaces that prevent water from soaking into the ground. The County is proposing separate rates for residential properties and commercial/industrial properties.  Residential properties will be divided into three proposed tiers based on their impervious surface area and then charged a flat rate depending upon the tier into which they fall.  Commercial and industrial properties will be charged for the actual amount of impervious surface area on the property.

7. How will the fee be billed?  Property owners will see the utility fee on their annual tax bill and will know the amount prior to receiving the bill in August.

8. My property is in the City, do I have to pay?  No, City of Durham properties are not under the County’s requirements.  The City of Durham has its own Stormwater Utility Fee for properties inside city limits.

9. Will businesses pay or just residents?  All properties with impervious surface area within the unincorporated areas of Durham County are subject to the utility.  

10. How are fees used?  The fees will be used to pay for new stormwater control measures, retrofits to existing systems, identifying land conservation opportunities and assisting landowners with implementing measures that will reduce stormwater runoff.  They will fund the compliance measures of the State's Nutrient Management Strategies and protect Durham County’s waterways.