Sugar Land City Council has approved the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which includes a Stormwater Compliance Fee meant to pay for stormwater-related activities that are part of state and federal environmental protection requirements.
Environmental Manager Georgia Tate said the establishment of this fee provides a dedicated and sustainable revenue source for one of the most important infrastructure programs in the city.
“Stormwater is the collection of water that is the result of a rain event,” Tate said. “And our drainage system carries the stormwater off the roads and out of neighborhoods into ditches and pipes, so maintaining the infrastructure of that system is incredibly important.”
The Stormwater Compliance Fee will help Sugar Land pay for unfunded mandates that are part of state and federal environmental protection requirements, including pollution prevention measures, community education, drainage system operations and maintenance, and other activities to control the quality of water discharged to the City’s storm drains and waterways.
The average resident will pay about $3 a month or $36 per year, which will be included as a fee on their water bill. Residents should expect the changes to come in their first January 2023 bill.
“Stormwater compliance is essential to keeping our stormwater system secure and we need this fee to meet those requirements,” Tate said.
These mandates date back to the 1970s and 1980s, when Congress amended the Clean Water Act to reduce the discharge of pollutants into U.S. waters. Subsequently, that authority was delegated to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The TCEQ issued stormwater permits in 2007 to cities with a population less than 100,000, and Sugar Land developed a Stormwater management program within six months to comply with the permits. But Tate said that as the City’s populations has grown, the permit requirements have changed.
More than 100 other Texas cities use fees to fund citizen priorities with 32 out of 40 cities in Texas with populations greater than 100,000 having stormwater fees.
“Since 2007, we have operated this unfunded program through the general fund,” Tate said. “But we’re now at the point that the capacity of the general fund is strained. We are working to balance the funding for City priorities like public safety, parks and recreation, and other essential programs. This new fee helps balance those priorities by creating a sustainable, dedicated funding source for stormwater compliance.”
Learn more about the new stormwater compliance fee here.