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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Cottonwood Heights residents anticipated to pay new storm water fee

Jun 21, 2021 12:22PM ● By Cassie Goff

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

For over six months, the Cottonwood Heights City Council has been deliberating on the implementation of a Storm Water Fee throughout the city. In March, the Cottonwood Heights City Journal reported on the context of the federal Clean Water Act and how that affects the city. There has been much more discussion since then as the city council ramps up to make a final decision. 

On April 6, Justin Dietrich and Emily Fica from Bowen Collins & Associates, along with Public Works Director Matthew Shipp, presented more information on a Storm Water Fee implementation to the council. 

“A storm water fee would help the city provide and meet its intent of being a responsible city and keeping the water clean,” Dietrich said. 

Their current recommendation would be to implement a $7.50 fee per ERU citywide. ERU stands for Equivalent Residential Unit which has been defined as 5,000 square feet of impervious surface area. A customer’s billed amount would be based on how much impervious area they have on their property. 

(Impervious surfaces are areas in which the natural landscape has been altered. When there’s precipitation, the water goes into the storm drain system instead of being soaked into the ground.) 

“Driveways, patios, roofs—that kind of thing,” Dietrich explained. 

Since most typical single-family residences of lots under 0.5 acres have an average of 4,000 square feet of impervious surface, many Cottonwood Heights residents would likely pay $6 per month. 

“We need to have different language around the fee,” said Councilmember Scott Bracken.

With a $7.50 per ERU fee, there would be five categories (classes) of customers within the city. The first being typical single-family residences as described. The next class would be large lot single-family residences, or single-family homes with lots larger than 0.5 acre with an average of 8,200 square feet of impervious surface. The Storm Water Fee for which would be around $12 per month. 

Then, the third and fourth classes would be stacked and non-stacked multi-family residences. This class would include condos, apartments, townhomes, and duplexes with 1,300 to 2,500 square feet of impervious surface. The monthly Storm Water Fee would be between $2.25 and $3.75. 

Commercial, institutional, civic, and mixed-use buildings would be the fifth class to be charged for storm water. This would include properties like schools, office buildings, restaurants, city buildings, parks, cemeteries, shopping centers and churches. A unique fee would have to be calculated for each property based on their impervious area.  

For example, a church with 131,000 square feet of impervious area would need to pay $196.50 per month while a 7-11 store with 17,000 square feet would need to be $25.50 per month. 

A $7.50 per ERU Storm Water Fee would provide Cottonwood Heights with $1,406,403 of revenue annually. This would help pay for trip maintenance, storm water fund expenses, manholes, waterway replacement, and operational costs. $75,000 is needed for flushing out storm water manholes and inlets; $225,000 is needed for raising buried storm drain manholes; and $101,722 is needed for waterway replacements on Timberline Drive, Prospector Drive and Quicksilver Drive. $500,000 or more would be retained for any emergency repairs or for flexibility with future bonding. The remaining funds will probably go to a variety of maintenance projects, payroll and operational costs. 

Billing would be handled by Rocky Mountain Power as a Storm Water Fee would be billed quarterly to customers with regular utilities. 

A waiver program will be considered to give customers under financial duress a 12-month relief. Waivers would also be available for active-duty military. 

“We will be coordinating with Rocky Mountain Power, looking at the budget and available credits, finalizing a customer list, and continuing with public involvement,” Dietrich said. 

Further discussion between city councilmembers and staff may include fee amounts, customer classes, updated billing approach, credit and waiver explanations, and a review of public involvement. 

Resident comments will continue to be heard by the city council. In addition, residents can direct questions to [email protected]