Butler County Storm Water District
BUTLER COUNTY STORM WATER DISTRICT
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FAQs

CATEGORIES
 
General Questions
Residential / Agricultural / Vacant
Non-residential
Non-Profits
Use of Funds & Results
Environmental

General Questions

Q: What is a Storm Water District?

A: In January 2003, Butler County, Ohio formed a Storm Water District for the purpose of complying with new unfunded EPA water quality guidelines that went into effect in March 2003. Many of the jurisdictions within the County and many thousands across the country are required to comply with these guidelines. Just as residents and businesses currently pay a fee for the amount of water they use, and the amount of wastewater they discharge (sanitary sewer bill), certain property owners in Butler County will be charged a user fee based on the amount of contribution they make to storm water runoff. That funding will be used for the complying with the new unfunded EPA water quality guidelines.

Q: Which communities are included in the Storm Water District?

A: Currently, the following communities have joined the Butler County Storm Water District:

Fairfield Township;
Hanover Township;
Lemon Township;
Liberty Township;
Madison Township;
Ross Township;
St. Clair Township;
Wayne Township;
West Chester Township;
City of Trenton;
Village of New Miami;
Village of Seven Mile.

Q: Why does Butler County need a Storm Water District?

A: Butler County has no dedicated funding source for managing storm water runoff and the related water quality issues. The current budget only allows for emergency repairs. It does not provide funding for implementing and enforcing new unfunded EPA water quality guidelines.

A comprehensive program is needed to: 1) Improve the water quality of local rivers and streams, and 2) Ensure that the county is in compliance with the tough, new regulations required by the U.S. EPA.

Q: Isn't flooding in Butler County just a problem in certain areas of the County?

A: The fee you are required to pay only covers the cost of complying with the new unfunded EPA water quality guidelines. Flooding and drainage issues will not be addressed under the current operating plan. A plan that addresses flooding and drainage issues would be much more expensive to implement, and would result in a higher annual cost to property owners. If you want the Storm Water District to consider flooding and drainage related issues for your community, you need to contact your elected officials and convey that message to them.

Q: What is hard surface or impervious area?

A: Hard surfaces, also known as impervious areas, are any surfaces that do not allow for rainwater to penetrate or be absorbed into the ground, such as a rooftop, driveway, parking lot, or gravel surface.

Q: What is an ERU?

A: ERU stands for Equivalent Residential Unit. The ERU was determined by measuring the impervious area for a representative random sample of single-family residential properties located within Butler County. We used aerial photography and Geographic Information System (GIS) data provided by the Butler County Auditor's Office, along with a computer mapping software program. The average impervious area for those measured single-family residential properties was 4,000 square feet.

Q: How did you measure my property?

A: We used aerial photography and Geographic Information System (GIS) data provided by the Butler County Auditor's office, along with a computer mapping software program.

Q: When will we begin paying?

A: Storm Water District fees will first appear on the January 2004 county property tax bills distributed by the County Auditor's Office. The charges will appear on the property tax bill as "NPDES Phase II," which stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. This is the acronym and title used by the EPA for their new unfunded water quality guidelines.

Q: Will I get a separate bill for storm water fees or charges?

A: No, the storm water fee will be a new line item on the property tax bill that you currently receive semi-annually from the Butler County Auditor's Office. The charges will appear on the property tax bill as "NPDES Phase II," which stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. This is the acronym and title used by the EPA for their new unfunded water quality guidelines.

Q: Will tax-exempt, non-profit organizations like schools, churches and hospitals be charged this fee?

A: Yes. Much like these organizations now pay for water and sanitary sewer services, they will pay a user fee based on their contribution to the storm water system. No one will be exempted from the program.

Q: Why can't we just use county funds to cover the costs?

A: The County's current budget is already strained and has been threatened with cutbacks from the State of Ohio. There just isn't any room in the current budget to pay the costs of complying with the unfunded EPA water quality guidelines.

Residential / Agricultural / Vacant (Undeveloped)

Q: How much will storm water fees cost?

A: All owners of single-family residential, agricultural or vacant and undeveloped properties will be charged a semi-annual rate of $6.50, or $13.00 per year. That rate is based on an average amount of "hard surface areas" such as driveways and roofs, found on residential properties in Butler County. The average residential property in the County contains around 4,000 square feet of hard or "impervious" surface area.

Q: What is impervious area?

A: Impervious area is any hard surface such as a rooftop, driveway, parking lot, or gravel surface that does not allow for rainwater to penetrate it or be absorbed into the ground.

Q: What is an ERU?

A: ERU stands for Equivalent Residential Unit. The ERU was determined by measuring the impervious area for a representative random sample of single-family residential properties located within Butler County. We used aerial photography and a Geographic Information System (GIS) computer software program for that purpose. The average impervious area for those measured single-family residential properties was 4,000 square feet.

Q: I live in an apartment. Will I have to pay?

A: No, unless you are the owner of the property. The Storm Water District charges will only be billed to the property owner. The property owner may however pass part of that cost along to you depending on the terms of your rental or lease agreement.

Q: When will rates go up?

A: The semi-annual rate of $6.50 per ERU is based on a five-year operating plan. It is expected that the rate will be reviewed in five years. However, some communities may petition the District to begin addressing flooding and drainage issues within their community. If so, the rate of charge may increase during the next five years.

Q: What about the charge for my farm? Am I going to have to pay for all of my acreage?

A: The Storm Water Advisory Committee recommended and the County Commissioners agreed that agricultural activities should be charged the same rate as a single-family residential property, or one ERU per month.

Q: I have a vacant lot that does not contain any impervious area. Why am I being billed?

A: The Storm Water Advisory Committee agreed that every parcel in the Storm Water District should be charged at least a minimum charge of one ERU per month since all properties contribute to water pollution, even if there are no structures or hard surfaces.

Non-Residential

Q: What is impervious area?

A: Impervious area is any hard surface such as a rooftop, driveway, parking lot, or gravel surface that does not allow for rainwater to penetrate it or be absorbed into the ground.

Q: What is an ERU?

A: ERU stands for Equivalent Residential Unit. The ERU was determined by measuring the impervious area for a representative random sample of single-family residential properties located within Butler County. We used aerial photography and a Geographic Information System (GIS) computer software program for that purpose. The average impervious area for those measured single-family residential properties was 4,000 square feet.

Q: How much will non-residential property owners pay? How was their rate of charge determined?

A: Non-residential property owners will also be asked to pay based on the amount of hard surface area on their properties. The impervious area for each non-residential property in the District was measured using information from the Butler County Auditor's Office.

The residential rate is used in the calculation for non-residential properties. In the calculation, the flat residential rate equals one "equivalent residential unit" or ERU. One ERU = 4,000 square feet of hard surface area.

Non-residential property owners are charged based on the number of ERUs of hard surface on their property. For example, if a commercial property has three times as much hard surface area as the average residence (12,000 sq. feet or 3 ERUs), its storm water charge would be three times the residential rate per year, or three times $13.00 ($39.00).

Q: How do I know that you measured my property correctly?

A: The data that we received from the Butler County Auditor's Office is quite accurate. Extreme care was used in measuring each non-residential property within the District. However, if you believe that an error was made in your measurement, we can review the measurement data for your property. We will contact you after we review the data and advise you if any adjustment was made.

If after the Storm Water District has reviewed your measurement data you still believe that we made an error in calculating the impervious surface for your property, please provide us with a written explanation and include any documentation to support your claim. If possible, please include a site plan with buildings, parking lot, roadways, and sidewalks shown. We will review the measurement information for your property again and make any adjustments if we agree with your documentation. If after reviewing your documentation we determine that the measurement was made correctly, we can schedule an appointment for you to come into our office and review the measurement information with us. Please send your letter and any documentation you have to support your claim to:

    Butler County Storm Water District
    Attn: Bob Lentz
    1921 Fairgrove Ave.
    Hamilton, Ohio 45011-1965

Please include your name, address, telephone number, and best time to contact you.

Q: Why is the amount of hard surface area used to calculate the rates?

A: Hard surface areas are used because they prevent water from being absorbed into the ground. Hard surfaces create more runoff and increase the rate at which storm water drains from an area.

Q: What has impervious area got to do with water quality?

A: Historically, impervious area has been the primary method used in computing storm water charges nationwide. This method for establishing storm water fees has been challenged a number of times in court and has been upheld. The amount of runoff from a property during a storm does reflect the potential for pollutants and sediment to be carried to our lakes and streams.

Q: I have detention / retention on my property. Doesn't that stop pollution from getting to the rivers and streams?

A: Detention / retention can have a positive or a negative impact on stream quality depending on how it is designed, maintained, and operated. The Credits Program will evaluate each storage basis submitted for a credit to determine its individual effectiveness.

Q: Is there anything that non-residential property owners can do to reduce their bill?

A: The Butler County Storm Water District has established a Credits Program to reduce storm water charges to those properties that provide services resulting in water quality improvement.

The Credits Program is an application process available to all non-residential property owners/customers only. Non-residential property owners/customers can reduce the amount of storm water charges assessed to their respective property by completing an application and performing storm water activities that improve water quality.

A Storm Water Credit is offered as an incentive to owners of non-residential properties for being good stewards of the Butler County Storm Water District resource. Property owners benefit through a reduction in their storm water utility bill as a result of "hands on" involvement in the Butler County Storm Water District program. The overall concept is that the entire community will benefit from enhancements to the Storm Water system through improvements to the quality of its water.

Q: How will I apply for credits?

A: Applications for the Credit Program are available here on the Storm Water District Website. Click here to download an application.

Q: What if I don't agree with the County's calculation of the amount of hard surface area I have on my property?

A: If you believe that we made an error in calculating the impervious surface for your property, please provide us with a written explanation and include any documentation to support your claim. If possible, please include a site plan with buildings, parking lot, roadways, and sidewalks shown. We will review the measurement information for your property and make any adjustments if we agree with your documentation. If after reviewing your documentation we determine that the measurement was made correctly, we can then schedule an appointment for you to come into our office and review the measurement information with us. Please send your letter and any documentation you have to support your claim to:

    Butler County Storm Water District
    Attn: Bob Lentz
    1921 Fairgrove Ave.
    Hamilton, Ohio 45011-1965

Please include your name, address, telephone number, and best time to contact you.

Q: When will the rate go up?

A: The semi-annual rate of $6.50 per ERU is based on a five-year operating plan. It is expected that the rate will be reviewed in five years. However, some communities may petition the District to begin addressing flooding and drainage issues within their community. If so, the rate of charge may increase during the next five years.

Non-Profits

Q: Our tax exempt property (school district, church, etc.) doesn't pay any taxes now. Why are we being charged this tax?

A: This charge is not a tax. It is a storm water fee or user charge and is no different than the water and/or wastewater bill that your organization pays now.

Use of Funds & Results

Q: Isn't this just another tax?

A: No, it is a user fee based on the amount of storm water runoff a property contributes to the system.

Q: I don't remember voting on this tax. How can the county do this without a vote?

A: This is not a tax. This is a user fee just like your water and sewer user fee. Under the Ohio Constitution and State Law, cities and counties are allowed to set up a user fee for water, sanitary sewer, and/or storm water by a vote of their respective elected officials. A referendum or vote of the people is not required under this law.

Q: How can we be sure that the money raised will be used for complying with the unfunded EPA water quality guidelines and not diverted to other projects by the County?

A: All of the funds raised by the District will go into a storm water "Enterprise Fund" and under state law can only be used for the intended purposes for which it was collected.

Q: Won't this Storm Water District create a whole new government bureaucracy?

A: The District is operated within the County's current departments. There will not be any new buildings or infrastructure. Only a small portion of the funds will be used for administration of the program.

Q: How will the money collected for the Storm Water District be used?

A: All of the funds collected by the District will be used to implement the Best Management Practices (BMP's) that were chosen to meet the EPA's unfunded water quality guidelines. These BMP's were chosen by a Steering Committee that was comprised of representatives (including some elected officials) from a majority of Butler County communities. A list of these BMP's can be found in the Storm Water Management Plan.

Q: How soon can we expect to see results, such as reduced flooding?

A: Flooding and drainage issues will not be addressed under the current operating plan. A plan that addresses flooding and drainage issues would be much more expensive to implement and would result in a higher annual cost to property owners. If you want the Storm Water District to consider flooding and drainage related issues for your community, you need to contact your local elected officials and convey that message to them.

Q: What specific issues will be addressed by the District?

A: The District will work to ensure that it is in compliance with the new strict EPA regulations. There are six minimum control measures that must be implemented in order to comply. One part of those minimum control measures requires that we prepare and distribute educational materials to property owners within the District. Another requires that we involve members of the community in activities directed toward improving the quality of storm water that eventually ends up in our County's streams and rivers. For a more complete explanation of the six minimum control measures, and how the District plans to meet the requirements, click here.

Environmental

Q: How does storm water affect the environment?

A: One of the reasons the city is implementing the storm water utility is to meet tough new U.S. EPA regulations. In addition to flooding, poor storm drainage also causes water pollution. Uncontrolled runoff also contributes to erosion which causes sediment build-up in our streams and rivers.

Storm water also picks up a lot of things on its way to area streams and rivers -- litter, road salt, lawn, garden, and agricultural chemicals, and more. Backyard mechanics that drain oil, antifreeze, or gas into the storm sewer pose a threat to the environment.

Q: How will the new District help to improve the environment?

A: The Storm Water District will provide funding for public education to help reduce pollution. The new District will also fund water quality monitoring and testing and will provide strict enforcement of current regulations on sedimentation and erosion control issues as well as pollution control measures.

Q: What happens if the District fails to meet the new requirements and regulations of the EPA?

A: The District or local governments could face fines of up to $27,500 per day for each violation.

CONTACT
INFORMATION

Bob Lentz
513.785.4120
info@stormwaterdistrict.org

Butler County Storm Water District
1921 Fairgrove Avenue
Hamilton, Ohio 45011

Butler County Storm Water District


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Butler County Storm Water District



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