This is the second of a two-part blog series on North Carolina stormwater updates for 2021-2022.
The EFC is excited to announce that we completed the North Carolina Stormwater Management Survey earlier this month. We asked local governments, with and without stormwater utilities, 36 questions in the categories of stormwater technical, managerial, and financial management. We received 62 responses from local governments across the state. We also conducted the 2022 North Carolina Stormwater Fee Survey. Below are some of our key findings from both surveys.
Stormwater Fees: Why implement them?
Local governments told us that their primary reason for implementing stormwater fees is to pay for regulatory compliance, financing capital needs, and addressing flooding challenges. Most of the survey respondents have a stormwater utility fee, while those that don’t mostly have not considered a fee, find a fee politically infeasible, or are worried about staffing challenges to administering a fee. Statewide, the EFC has identified 98 local governments with stormwater fees. Check out the 2022 NC Stormwater Utility Fee Dashboard to find residential fees for all 98 local government stormwater utilities.
Are stormwater utilities able to meet current total stormwater needs with fee revenue?
We defined total stormwater needs as regulatory compliance, operations and maintenance, and capital improvement needs. We found that 80 percent of responding stormwater utilities could not meet all stormwater needs with fee revenues. However, a most utilities reported being able to meet almost all their needs as slightly more than half reported being able to meet all but some capital needs.
To investigate regulatory compliance further, we asked why MS4 permit holders may be out of compliance with their MS4 permit. The most common responses were lack of funding and insufficient staff, which is related to a lack of funding. Two of the four programs that specifically cited a lack of funding have instituted a stormwater fee effective in 2022.
Are stormwater utilities actively evaluating their fees?
We found that 30 stormwater utilities have increased their residential stormwater fees since 2020 by an average of $1.46 per month (at 3,000 square feet of impervious surface). It is clear that stormwater utilities in North Carolina are actively evaluating their fees. Moreover, with three new stormwater fees in 2022, local governments without stormwater fees continue to actively consider creating stormwater utilities to meet regulatory and capital improvement needs.
Local governments seek partnership for improved efficiency
Local governments are actively partnering with both peer jurisdictions and private firms to better manage their stormwater responsibilities. Interlocal agreements for stormwater commonly address shared staffing, shared billing services, and joint MS4 compliance. Moreover, local governments are contracting with private entities for infrastructure construction and management, as well as engineering services. Partnerships are an avenue for helping local governments improve operational efficiencies.
Want to learn more?
Be sure to read the stormwater management and stormwater fee survey reports. As always, you can find all the most up-to-date stormwater resources on our North Carolina Stormwater Resources page. Also, be on the lookout for registration for the School of Government Stormwater Finance Workshop in December!