Arlington Moves to Fairer Funding for Stormwater Management
Published on December 18, 2023
The Arlington County Board has formally adopted a new, fairer way to fund the increasingly vital handling of stormwater, approving the County’s first-ever stormwater utility fee, to take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
The new fee, based on each property’s non permeable or impervious area, replaces the previous sanitary district tax, which was based on property’s real estate assessments. Real estate assessments do not correlate to the amount of stormwater runoff generated by each property, so it was a less fair way for property owners to contribute.
The new utility fee rate is set at $258 per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). The ERU is the billing unit for the stormwater utility and is equivalent to 2,400 square feet, the median impervious area for single family properties in Arlington.
Single-family homes have a tiered rate structure. Multi-family residential properties, including condominiums, will be billed a flat fee of 0.18 ERU per unit.
Non-residential properties are billed based on the measured impervious area on their property. A fee estimator is available on the County website.
Customers will receive the first real estate bill with the Stormwater Utility fee in May 2024. The fee will be billed in two parts on the May and September real estate bills.
Since 2020, Arlington County has explored shifting to a fairer stormwater billing system due to the rise in severe local flooding and the increased need for infrastructure investments. As part of this process, the County engaged with customers from a broad and representative range of backgrounds and interests through a community advisory group, online feedback forms, public forums, public events, and other engagement methods.
A torrential July 2019 storm that dumped up to five inches of rain in under an hour prompted a state of emergency and caused several million dollars in damages to homes, businesses and County infrastructure including roads.
Despite heightened runoff management requirements for new construction and redevelopment, Arlington’s overall impervious levels have continued to rise, mostly due to single-family home redevelopment.
The County is offering credits to offset up to 35% of a stormwater utility bill for property owners who take certain actions including tree planting and the use of rain barrels. The application period for 2024 bill credits closes Jan. 15, 2024.
With the new stormwater fee system, most places of worship along with federal and nonprofit properties are not exempt as they were with the previous sanitary district tax. Such properties have long been billed for other County utility services like drinking water and sanitary sewer use.
Visit the Stormwater Utility Fee webpage to learn more.