Stormwater Utility

Stormwater is water generated by precipitation, which creates a runoff that collects surface pollutants such as fertilizers, car exhaust, and other damaging contaminants that are absorbed into the nearby soils, wetlands, lakes, and other important watersheds. It is known as a “non-point source” pollutant due to the nature of  the generated waterflow. Controlling the runoff and aiding in water quality management has become essential in keeping our water safe for all of its many uses.

Why Must We Manage Stormwater?

The City of Medina administers, operates, and maintains a stormwater management program meant to:

  • Preserve valuable natural resources
  • Protect people and property
  • Reduce nuisance flooding
  • Improve water quality

What are Some Current Examples of Projects in Medina?

Three Rivers Lake Independence Ravine Project – The City received a grant from the Clean Water Legacy fund and will accomplish an estimated 15% of the phosphorus reduction needed to meet Minnesota Pollution Control Agency water-quality standards.

Loretto Creek Sediment and Nutrient Removal Grant Project – The City received a grant from the Clean Water Legacy funds to provide treatment for approximately 490 acres of watershed.

The attached article also provides some background and a few examples of where funds have been spent to provide a better understanding on the need for the stormwater utility fee.

Ardmore_Sub-Watershed Assessment Report -_April 2016

Financing a Stormwater Management Program

  • A stormwater program is funded by a service charge or utility fee
  • Augments existing funding sources
  • An equitable distribution of stormwater management system costs, based on the premise of “contributors pay”
  • Fee varies by the amount of stormwater runoff generated by a particular parcel

Medina’s Stormwater Utility Billing

The purpose for creating the stormwater utility (SWU) is to provide an alternative source of funding from general property taxes to support stormwater mandates and needs. Stormwater mandates include the improvement to local impaired bodies of water (Lake Independence, Lake Sarah, Spurzem Lake, Holy Name Lake, Elm Creek, etc.) as well as the City’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP). Other needs include annual maintenance to City stormwater ponds, culverts, erosion control and general enforcement. The stormwater utility (SWU) was officially established into City Code 745 by the City Council on May 20, 2008.

For property owners who receive a water and sewer utility bill, a new line item for the stormwater utility charge has been included on your monthly bill. Property owners who do not have water and sewer will receive an annual bill.

The SWU will more equitably distribute charges for stormwater improvements to property owners compared to general property taxes because the focus of a SWU is to better charge those who are contributing to stormwater problems, rather than through property taxes which is based on your market value. Non-tax paying entities such as governments, churches, etc. will receive a SWU charge and bill. Some exemptions for parks, etc. and credits for wetland areas, as well as suitable conservation and buffer easements will apply.

Stormwater Utility Report – Dated April 2008

Purpose of the Utility Fee

Increased competition for City funding necessitates the need for a stormwater utility to provide an equitable, dedicated funding source for stormwater management services, including:

  • State stormwater permit compliance
  • Implementation activities to address impairments of waters in and around Medina
  • Water quality  improvements
  • Stormwater system upgrades
  • General stormwater  system maintenance

Determining Fees

The fee for each parcel is based on the square footage and the number of units on the parcel.  All parcels have been assigned a certain number of Residential Equivalency Factors (REFs). One REF represents the amount of  runoff from a typical single family residential parcel. The assignment of REFs for some existing land use types is as follows:

  • Agriculture – 1 REF/10 acre1 round down to whole REF2
  • Commercial – 6.4 REFs/acre1
  • Industrial – 6.4 REFs/acre1
  • Multi-Family Residential – 5.3 REFs/acre1
  • Rural Residential – 1 REF/10 acre1 round down to whole REF2
  • Single Family Residential – 1 REF per parcel
  • Undeveloped Land – 1 REF/10 acre1 round down to whole REF2

1 Billable acreage = parcel area minus wetland area

2 Minimum of 1 REF per parcel

Calculating the Costs?

In 2018, the total number of REFs City-wide = 6,768. Estimated storm water utility budget = $205,150. Annual cost per REF = $30.31. Monthly cost per REF = $2.53.