Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I report stormwater basin, ditch, or drainage issues?
Please use Durham One Call to report basin obstruction, ditches in need of cleaning or maintenance, or drainage problems on private property: Durham One Call.
- How do I report illegal dumping in a storm drain?
Call the Stormwater Hotline: 919-560-SWIM (919-560-7946).
- What is stormwater?
Stormwater is rain or melted snow that does not soak into the ground. This water flows over the ground into storm drains, ditches, and other channels that flow directly into creeks, rivers, and lakes. Stormwater is not treated to remove pollution.
- What services do I get from paying stormwater utility fees?
- Keeping roads clean, street and sidewalk sweeping, litter control, and dead animal removal.
- Maintaining, cleaning, and repairing storm drains and ditch maintenance within publicly owned right-of-way.
- Mitigating flooding
- Running the Household Hazardous Waste Collection program
- Stream monitoring and running an illicit discharge identification and elimination program.
- Educating residents about preventing stormwater pollution.
- Complying with federal and state requirements related to stormwater and water quality.
- Do you prefer monthly billing over annual?
Contact Durham One Call at 919-560-1200 to have your billing frequency changed to either monthly or annual.
- I disagree with my billing tier or ERU calculation...
View your property on the Stormwater Utility Fee Map online. If there are significant differences between the impervious area recorded online and what is actually on your property, please contact Durham One Call at 919-560-1200 or submit a Stormwater Appeal form online.
- How can I find out if there is a limit on the amount of impervious surface on my lot?
Contact the Development Services Center at 919-560-4137, option 3 or at [email protected].
- Isn't this essentially a tax on rain water?
The stormwater utility fee is not changed by the amount of rain that falls or property tax value. The fee is based on the amount of runoff potentially created by impervious surface on the property. It is similar to fees paid for water/sewer service, trash collection, or electricity.
- How long is my billing cycle?
Annual stormwater utility fees are generated once per fiscal year between July 1st and June 30th the following year. Monthly stormwater utility fees are billed along with your water and/or sewer charges once per month. For stormwater only accounts, monthly bills are generated on the last workday of that month.
- Who is responsible for paying the stormwater utility fee?
The property owner is ultimately responsible for paying the fee. Property sales and stormwater billing accounts are reviewed and updated on a regular basis. Please contact Durham One Call at 919-560-1200 if responsibility has not been updated after four weeks following a change in ownership.
- Are churches and other tax-exempt properties exempt from stormwater utility fees?
Tax exempt organizations still have to pay the stormwater utility fee. The stormwater utility fee is similar to fees paid for water and sewer service, trash collection, or electricity. All developed land in the city, whether public or private, is billed based on the impervious area on the property. The City of Durham even pays a stormwater utility fee for the impervious area at its facilities.
- My property is in the County, do I have to pay?
Properties outside of Durham city limits are billed under the County's requirements and are not billed by the City of Durham. For more information about stormwater utility fees for properties in Durham County and outside Durham city limits, contact Durham County Tax Administration at [email protected] or 919-560-0300.
- Why is impervious area used to determine a property's stormwater utility fee?
The amount of impervious surface on a property is the single most important factor affecting the amount of water flowing off a property, how quickly that water flows off a property, and the amount of pollution picked up by the water from that property. Because of this, basing stormwater utility fees on the impervious area on a property is one of the most common methods used to determine stormwater utility fees.
- What is considered an impervious surface?
An impervious surface is a hard surface that does not let water soak into the ground or greatly reduces the amount of water that soaks into the ground. For more information, please visit our Impervious Surface page.
- How is the amount of impervious area on my property calculated?
The amount of impervious area on your property is determined through the use of a geographic information system (GIS), aerial photos, and satellite imagery. Images are taken of Durham that show the impervious surfaces on each property. A computer program is then used to calculate the amount of impervious area on each parcel. To view impervious area on your property visit the Stormwater Utility Fee Map.
- If stormwater causes so many problems, why don’t we treat it along with our sanitary sewage?
Some older cities have a combined sewer system that treats rainwater with their sewage. The problem with sending rainwater to a treatment plant is that that there is just so much of it. For example, if one inch of rain falls on Durham that is almost 2 billion gallons of water. Durham has 2 wastewater treatment plants that are each permitted to treat 20 million gallons of wastewater per day. At that capacity the city would need 90 treatment plants to handle 1 inch of rain. Cities with combined sewer systems often have sewer system overflows with heavy rains. This releases bacteria, pathogens, toxic chemicals, and debris into the environment.
Currently the city uses other methods to treat stormwater that include practices such as stormwater wetlands, bioretention areas, and vegetated buffers. The cost of adding such items to a site after it is developed is about $50,000/acre of impervious area. These high costs to remove pollution from our stormwater are why it is so important to prevent the pollution.