Stormwater is water which comes from rain and melted snow that flows over land and into storm drains, ditches, creeks and lakes. In natural landscapes, stormwater is soaked up like a sponge, which then nourishes plants and slowly replenishes creeks, lakes, wetlands and aquifers.
In more urban areas, impervious (or hard) surfaces such as asphalt, concrete and rooftops prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, the water runs quickly into storm drains and sewer systems, and then to our creeks and lakes. These hard surface areas create more stormwater runoff, and carry more pollutants, such as oil, grit and garbage into creeks and lakes.
While rural areas may have fewer impervious surfaces like parking lots and buildings compared to urban areas, they still can contribute runoff during rainstorms and have been found to impact the creeks which receive their run-off. In addition, the drainage from roadways and driveways in rural and urban areas must be managed; a service from which all property owners benefit.
Stormwater Flooding & Pollution Prevention
These programs help the city manage storm events and snow melt that help protect homes and the environment from flooding and pollution.
Stormwater Management Program
The City is responsible for managing stormwater within its jurisdiction, a program that includes planning, constructing, operating and maintaining natural and engineered infrastructure. The City’s stormwater management program helps protect the health and safety of the public, private property, infrastructure and the environment from flooding, erosion and poor water quality from the stormwater runoff. The program includes infrastructure such as sewers, ditches, pipes, oil grit separators, infiltration galleries, stormwater ponds and watercourses.
Since a lot of the City’s land is covered in hard surfaces, water cannot soak into the ground in the same way as natural areas. If stormwater cannot soak into the ground, it runs off into the stormwater system. In rural areas, ditches and culverts require regular cleaning and maintenance by City crews to keep them working efficiently. The City is also trying to address water quality issues in rural creeks that can result from stormwater runoff from rural properties.
These assets and programs all require a funding source for maintenance, repairs and replacement (at the end of their service life). There are many different pressures on the stormwater system: urbanization, aging infrastructure, greater understanding of environmental impacts, and the increasing impacts of climate change. Without proper funding and preventative maintenance, there is potential for disruptive failures and costly repairs.
Property owners have always contributed to funding our stormwater management system. Currently, the City primarily funds its stormwater management program through its water and wastewater utility revenues. This means properties contribute to stormwater management and the required infrastructure based on the amount of drinking water consumed; which is not fair or equitable. In 2025, the City will move stormwater funding from the water/wastewater utility to a new stormwater utility. Property owners will see a reduction in their water/wastewater rate and a new stormwater line item on their utility bill.
Wastewater Collection & Treatment
Wastewater Collection & Treatment is deeply connected to Stormwater Management. Learn how homes and the environment are protected from flooding and pollution during storm events and and snow melt.