The City is asking media to alert property owners that the stormwater bills they received in September are just samples.
There is a new stormwater fee that will be implemented on January 1st, 2016. The sample stormwater bills were to inform residents and give them time to prepare.
Residents have been mailing in payments from the sample bills, and the City reinforces that these bills were samples only. No payment is due at this time. Checks that have been received are being returned along with an explanatory letter.
Currently, the Portland Water District collects the stormwater fee along with the sewer fee on water bills. The sewer fee will be reduced as the stormwater fee is separated out and paid directly to the City starting on January 1st.
The collected funds will be used solely to maintain and improve the City’s sewer and stormwater infrastructure. The stormwater fee is accessed based on a property’s impervious area.
Parking lots will get hit the hardest because they have large impervious areas and small water/sewer usage. Most residential properties will see little change in monthly costs.
Below is the language from a letter that was sent to property owners along with the sample bill to inform them of the new fee and billing process.
How residents and businesses pay for sewer and stormwater services in the City will be changing.
The Portland Water District bills you on the City’s behalf for sewer (wastewater) services provided by the City. How much you pay is calculated from how much water you use every month. The current sewer (wastewater) bill actually covers two separate services: cleaning water from your toilets, showers, and sinks; and managing runoff from your roof, driveway, patio, and other hard surfaces on your property (also called impervious area). This runoff carries pollution to streams, lakes, and Casco Bay. It can also flood streets and private property.
Your Bill Today
· Your sewer charge will pay for treating the drinking water you use in your home. This fee is based on your water meter.
· Your stormwater service charge will pay for managing runoff from your property. This charge is calculated from impervious area (roof, paved areas) on your property.
A More Fair Billing System
The current way we charge for sewer and stormwater services is flawed. Currently the responsibility of clean water is solely on those that pay a sewer (wastewater) charge.
The proposed system is more fair than the current system for three reasons:
1. It will distribute charges to all property owners. Parking lots with no water service currently pay nothing, but they impact the stormwater system. With the new billing system, they will be required to pay based on their impervious area.
2. Everybody will pay it. All property owners, including non-profits, schools and even the City will pay the stormwater service charge if they have impervious areas (roofs, paved areas, etc.) on their property.
3. Residents and businesses can take steps to reduce runoff from their property and lower their overall bill.
With A New Bill:
· Your sewer charge will not be changed from how it is calculated now.
· The format of your water and sewer bill, from Portland Water District, will not change; but the wastewater line item on your bill will no longer include the cost for stormwater services.
· The stormwater service charge will come as a separate bill.
Reducing Your Stormwater Service Charge
With the new stormwater service charge, residents and businesses have the opportunity to save money:
· You will save money automatically on your water and sewer bill. How much you save will depend on how much water you use.
· You can save money on your stormwater charge by reducing the impervious area on your property. In doing so, you will need to file a simple appeal form to have your stormwater service charge recalculated.
· You can also save money by applying for a credit. Residents can receive credits designed for homes or have the option to utilize all credits available to commercial properties. Residents choosing to apply for commercial credits will be required to meet all commercial requirements.
How do you earn a credit? Staff in the Water Resources Division is available to provide guidance. Citizens should call 207-874-8462 or email SWCredit@PortlandMaine.gov to talk with a staff person and/or make an appointment to meet with an engineer.
The credit program is focused on structural controls that reduce the impact of development on the stormwater drainage system. Two broad categories of controls are recognized: water quality controls and flood controls. Credits are available for residential properties and non-residential properties. To get a credit, a structural control needs to be built and a credit needs to be applied for with the City of Portland Department of Public Services.
Should you have any further questions regarding the new charge, please visit: www.portlandmaine.gov/stormwater.