Study for Flood Management and Water Quality Funding

CurrenStormwater utility study logo Flooding events in recent years have drawn attention to the need for drainage improvements in key parts of Fayetteville as well as for a proactive maintenance and replacement plan for drainage infrastructure going forward.

While Fayetteville residents approved a 2019 bond issue to pay for a number of needed drainage infrastructure projects around the city, there is no dedicated funding source to pay for ongoing regular citywide inspection, maintenance and cleanout of drainage infrastructure, or regular replacement of aging structures. 

In order for the City to help prevent flooding in the future, as well as to protect our water quality and natural ecosystems, there is an immediate need to find a sustainable funding source for stormwater management. In 2018 the City embarked on a Flood Management and Water Quality Funding study to assess what level of service is needed to achieve those goals, and how the City might best pay for the program. 

What did the study recommend?

The study determined that the most equitable way to fund the City’s stormwater needs now and into the future is with a customer utility fee for stormwater maintenance service based on the square-footage of impervious surfaces on the customer’s property. Impervious surfaces—such as  driveways, roofs,  sidewalks and roads—cause an increase in the amount of rainwater running off of a property and entering the drainage system; and runoff from impervious areas also carries pollutants that can impact water quality.  

What do the proposed fees look like?

Currently proposed are six tiers of fees, based on the square footage of impermeable surface on the customer’s property. The fees would ramp up over the course of five years. 

All of these fees could be lowered through the proposed Sustainable Credit Program.  See more about this below. 

The Proposed Stormwater Utility Fee Schedule is as Follows:

Tier Impermeable Area 
on property (sq. feet(
Per Month
Year 1
Per Month
Year 2
Per Month
Year 3
Per Month
Year 4
Per Month
Year 5
Tier 1 ≤2,000 sf $0.75 $0.90 $1.08 $1.30 $1.79
Tier 2 > 2,000 and ≤ 3,500 $2.25 $2.70 $3.24 $3.90 $5.37
Tier 3 > 3,500 and ≤ 5,000 $3.38 $4.05 $4.86 $5.85 $9.66
Tier 4 > 5,000 and ≤ 6,500 $4.50 $5.40 $6.48 $7.80 $10.74
Tier 5 > 6,500 and ≤ 8,000 $5.63 $6.75 $8.10 $9.75 $13.43
Tier 6 > 8,000          

cu* For properties with more than 8,000 square feet of impermeable area, including private residences, schools, churches, commercial properties and multi-family housing properties, fees are calculated on a per-thousand-square-feet basis. 

What do City residents get for the money?

At present there is no funding to provide for any regularly scheduled inspection, cleanout, or replacement of drainage infrastructure, which means repairs are made only when something goes wrong. In addition, some older private properties have no dedicated drainage easement associated with the stormwater infrastructure, so the City does not have access to the drainage features on those properties to make necessary repairs, therefore, maintenance and repairs to these facilities are currently the responsibility of the property owner.   

Under the proposed stormwater utility, some of the benefits to residents are:

  • A regular schedule of ongoing maintenance, repair and cleanout of drainage features
  • Ongoing regular replacement of aging infrastructure
  • City management of some drainage features currently on private property where no City easement is currently present (such as older parts of town where easements were not previously required). 
  • Management of residential detention basins

Sustainable Credit Program

Under the proposed stormwater program, customers may have an opportunity to reduce their stormwater fee by up to 75%. Customers could qualify for fee reductions by demonstrating activities or practices that reduce their drainage burden (in water quality or quantity) on the City’s drainage system. 

Possible Sustainable Credits for Residential Customers

Credit Activity / Practice Description Range of Potential Credit
No direct discharge to the City's Municipal Stormwater System  Properties that can demonstrate that there is no drainage/discharge of water from their property into the City’s drainage system Up to 75%
Shared Parking Properties that agree to accommodate shared private parking of five or more spaces or use free public parking of two or more spaces to minimize the creation of new impervious area for parking. 10 - 40%
Compliance with the City’s Drainage Criteria Manual (DCM) standards Properties designed and constructed per the City’s standards, or properties that are retrofitted with water quality, flood and tree mitigation measures from the DCM.  10 - 40%

Credits Under Consideration for Non-Residential Customers

The City is exploring ways to help non-residential customers earn credits.   Some of the possible credit options include: 

  • If the customer is already managing their stormwater through a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Industrial Stormwater Permit from the EPA.  
  • Non-profit institutions, such as schools and churches, may be able to  earn credits through stormwater education and stewardship activities. 
  • Property owned by a public agency may earn credits through an Interlocal Cooperation Agreement with the City that recognizes their public efforts to reduce stormwater runoff. 

Timeline and Next Steps

The proposed Stormwater Utility plan is currently expected to be presented to the Stormwater Committee in October and could then be placed on the agenda for the November 16 or December 7 meeting of City Council.  

The Stormwater Utility fee will be implemented within 18 months of adoption of the proposed ordinance by the Fayetteville City Council. 

Public Engagement Events

Public outreach events were held: September 20, 2018 (Ozark Natural Foods); September 22, 2018 (Fayetteville Farmers’ Market); January 9, 2019 (Fayetteville Public Library); January 10, 2019 (Arkansas Research & Technology Park); and January 17, 2019 (Boys & Girls Club). 

The City conducted two surveys to help staff determine the scope of work desired and to set priorities.  

Additional Information

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