Stormwater Utility Credit Program
About the Credit Program
The County recognizes that certain stormwater management practices reduce a property’s impact on the County’s stormwater infrastructure and waterways. With the adoption of the Stormwater Resolution and Credit Program in April 2023, the County Board established a credit program that allows property owners who take actions to help water quality and reduce stormwater runoff receive a reduction in their Stormwater Utility fee. This is known as a Stormwater Utility credit. The credit program is not a bill assistance program, but rather a thank you to customers for doing the right thing for the environment.
From November 1, 2023, through January 15, 2024, all property owners in Arlington can apply for voluntary credits to offset up to 35% of their Stormwater Utility bill (approximately $80/ERU). Note: If your property has stormwater facilities installed as a condition of development, you will automatically receive mandatory credits when you complete your regular stormwater facility certification process. Review the Stormwater Credit Manual (Spanish(PDF, 4MB)) and credit program video for more details, including application instructions, required documentation, and tips for a successful submission.
Stormwater Credits At-A-Glance
The credit will be calculated based on the mandatory and voluntary actions taken and the type of property (single-family residential or multi-family and non-residential) as listed in the following table.
Mandatory Stormwater Facility Credit (All Property Types)
In Arlington, construction and/or redevelopment projects disturbing more than 2,500 sq ft must apply for a land disturbing activity (LDA) permit and must install stormwater management facilities. The amount of the credit for these facilities will be based on performance and the design standard under which the facilities were installed as shown at right. As long as you remain in compliance with the required stormwater facility inspections, credit will automatically be given and no separate credit application is required.
Credits will be available for residents who take voluntary actions to mitigate stormwater runoff on their property, which include having a permeable driveway, a rain garden, native plant landscaping, rainwater collection and/or tree planting.
Multi-Family and Non-Residential
In addition to the residential voluntary credit actions listed above, multi-family and non-residential facilities will also be eligible to receive credit for the following activities:
- A stormwater education event once per year with at least 30 attendees
- Parking lot / private street sweeping (6 times per year)
- 30 volunteer hours for activities such as:
- Storm drain marking
- Stream cleanup
- Invasive plant removal
Apply for the Stormwater Credit Program
Actions taken during Calendar Year 2023 will be eligible for credit on the first bill in May 2024. Applications for the stormwater credit program will open on November 1, 2023 - January 15, 2024, as shown in the timeline below. In the meantime, review the Stormwater Credit Manual (Spanish(PDF, 4MB)) to learn how to prepare your application.
Credit Program FAQs
Can the utility be used to "reward" or incentivize private property owners to plant trees or take action to reduce runoff from the property?
A credit program is required for any jurisdiction that creates a Stormwater Utility in Virginia. The credit program will be a way to say "thank you" for doing certain environmentally friendly activities, such as installing a permeable driveways, rain gardens, planting trees, native plantings, etc. Because the total amount of the stormwater fee is relatively low for most property owners compared to the costs of stormwater projects, the credit has a relatively long return on investment.
View the Stormwater Credits At-A-Glance section above for the credits available.
Since the Stormwater Utility credits reduce the amount of fees collected which funds the program, Stormwater Utility credits are usually a relatively modest reduction for individual properties (typically credit programs comprise under 1% of utility fee revenues). If stormwater credits were increased, that could result in an increase to Stormwater Utility fees so the appropriate amount of revenue is still generated to sufficiently fund debt service, all programs and projects.
What types of credits are available?
Mandatory structural credits are for stormwater facilities installed as a requirement of a development project through the Land Disturbing Activity (LDA) permit. Property owners will get an automatic credit towards their Stormwater Utility fee if they complete their required facility inspection and certification on schedule and are in compliance.
Voluntary credits are available for actions taken by property owners to reduce runoff or stormwater pollution.
Some credits are annual credits and the activity must be completed each year to receive that credit. Other credits, such as conservation landscaping, rain gardens, and permeable driveways or parking lots, are ongoing credits. These credits can be re-certified every other year once they are completed and approved the first time.
Property owners can apply for Calendar Year 2023 credit activities completed during the application process between November 1, 2023, and January 15, 2024, for the Calendar Year 2024 billing period. The maximum credit available is 35%.
View the Stormwater Credits At-A-Glance section above for more information about the types of credit actions available.
Are there credits for existing trees or native plant landscaping?
Credits are available for new tree planting or new native plant landscaping. The credit activities were selected to try to manage the complexity and administration of the credit program. Providing credits for existing trees and native plant landscaping would be more complex as property owners may not have documentation from before the credit program was developed. In addition, issues such as plant species or condition of the native landscaping or trees might need to be taken into account. There could also be many people potentially claiming these credits, which could affect the overall rate for the utility. The credit program was developed as part of an extensive engagement process for the stormwater utility and included benchmarking with credit programs for other jurisdictions' stormwater utilities.
How are decks handled under the Stormwater Utility?
Decks are counted as impervious area if they have a patio or other hard surface underneath.
I have a gravel driveway. Does that count as impervious area?
Gravel driveways are considered impermeable surfaces due to the compaction required for them to be usable and because they prevent infiltration, which results in stormwater flowing off these surfaces at a higher rate than pervious surfaces. The County is following a nationally accepted standard by classifying gravel as impervious. In Virginia, the Department of Environmental Quality publishes the Virginia Stormwater Management Handbook, which defines impervious as, “a surface composed of any material that significantly impedes or prevents natural infiltration of water into soil.”
I have a permeable driveway or patio. How are these types of surfaces handled?
Permeable and impermeable surfaces are not distinguishable on the GIS maps, so all paved surfaces are counted in the total impervious area for the property. Credits will be available for permeable driveways and parking lots.
My property has a swimming pool. Does that count as impervious area?
A swimming pool is considered an impervious surface because it is a structure that does not allow water to seep through its walls or bottom. This means that when it rains, the water will stay on the surface of the pool rather than seeping into the ground like other pervious surfaces.
What do I do if I don't agree with the impervious area measurement for my property?
There will be an online form available to submit a dispute.