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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Residents to pay new storm water fee

Dec 06, 2021 02:06PM ● By Cassie Goff

The storm drain system infrastructure in Cottonwood Heights tends to get polluted and causes blockages which are hard to clean. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Cottonwood Heights residents will begin paying an additional monthly fee on their Rocky Mountain Power utility bill. The storm water fee will be collected in part to help fund replacement and repairs for the city’s infrastructure. While the fee amount will vary between customers, the average resident will pay roughly $6 per month.

The base fee approved by the Cottonwood Heights City Council on June 15 (through Ordinance 359 - Enacting and Codifying Chapter 17.29 ‘Storm Sewer Utility’) is $7.50 per ERU (Equivalent Residential Unit), which is defined as 5,000 square feet of impervious surface area. Impervious areas include surfaces like driveways, patios and roofs. They are areas in which the natural landscape has been altered, so when there’s precipitation, the water doesn’t soak into the ground. Instead, the water is funneled into the storm drain system.

Rocky Mountain Power customers will pay slightly different prices for the storm water fee, depending on the impervious surface on each individual property. 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. A waiver program offering 12 months of relief may be available to customers under financial duress or in active-duty military.

The fee was determined as necessary by the council since the Cottonwood Heights Public Works crew continually uncovers deteriorated elements of the storm drain infrastructure, which are in desperate need of repair. This is a rather frequent occurrence as Salt Lake County did not accurately map the entire system before the city incorporated. There are still elements of the system the public works team discovers that were not previously accounted for nor mapped.

The corrugated metal pipe storm drain system, which only had an intended life span of roughly 25 years, was primarily constructed in the '70s and '80s by Salt Lake County. It has now been in use for double its lifespan.

Cottonwood Heights is one of the last municipalities in the area to implement such a storm water fee, as all the cities and unincorporated areas already have fee schedules implemented or pending.

This $7.50 per ERU storm water fee is estimated to provide the city with $1,406,403 of revenue annually. This revenue will help pay for trip maintenance, storm water fund expenses, manholes, waterway replacement, and operational costs related to the city’s infrastructure.

The current budgetary plans are to divide the anticipated revenue of $75,000 for flushing out storm water manholes and inlets, $225,000 for raising buried storm drain manholes, and $101,722 for waterway replacements. In addition, $500,000 will be retained for any emergency repairs or for flexibility with future bonding.

On Nov. 2, the Cottonwood Heights City Council unanimously approved Resolution 2021-54 which entered the city into a billing services agreement with PacifiCorp. PacifiCorp is the parent corporation of Rocky Mountain Power and company for the Utah Department of Transportation’s billing services.

“We don’t have a separate billing for the city,” Councilmember Scott Bracken explained as he motioned for approval. “PacifiCorp goes to every address in the city and it’s the only one who goes to all residents. They are already set up for this process.”

Resolution 2021-54 states that PacifiCorp “is responsible for communicating the adoption and collection of assigned fees to the city’s residents.” PacifiCorp “shall provide customers contact information, including a toll-free telephone number, for inquires related to feeds on their Rocky Mountain Power bill.”

For more information, visit the city’s website and search “Stormwater.” Questions and comments may be sent to [email protected] or the city’s communications manager at 801-944-7015.