Introduction to Stormwater Pollution
How important is water here in Elyria? Well, consider that our city was founded in 1817 where the two forks of the Black River meet. You’ve probably been mesmerized by our stunning waterfalls. And enjoyed our 365 acres of parks.
But water in Elyria is now facing challenges. The culprit is stormwater pollution. During heavy rain events a significant amount of rain in Elyria falls on “impervious areas.” These are hard surfaces — roofs, asphalt, concrete, gravel lots, etc. — that cannot absorb stormwater. The stormwater that rolls off these surfaces (1) collects oil, salt, soil, fertilizer, pesticides, animal waste and other impurities, (2) becomes stormwater pollution, (3) then makes its way into the Black River and Lake Erie.
Stormwater pollution in Elyria must be stopped. And we need your help to do it!
A Clear Plan for Clean Water
In response to EPA unfunded mandates and rising costs related to stormwater management, Mayor Brinda and members of city council asked the engineering staff to initiate the creation of a stormwater utility plan. The plan established a dedicated funding source to comply with U.S. EPA water-quality regulations (a federal unfunded mandate) and cover the cost to effectively manage stormwater.
A large portion of the revenue generated by the stormwater fee will be used by Elyria to comply with water-quality regulations in the following ways:
- Monitor the water quality of local waterways
- Identify/eliminate improper connections
- Map the stormwater system
- Inspect construction sites and enforce related ordinances
- Manage stormwater runoff throughout the system
- Sewer system cleaning and maintenance
Funds will also be used to support the funding of stormwater projects throughout the city, including:
- Installing a relief sewer on the east side of the city
- Attending to citywide flooding and drainage problems
New Stormwater Utility Fee
Beginning April 2016 and every quarter after that, residential homeowners and non-residential property owners in Elyria will pay a quarterly Elyria stormwater utility fee (not a tax). The fee will be used to help Elyria meet a federal unfunded mandate and fund capital improvement projects that begin to address flooding and drainage issues. The bills are green and white, have a unique account number, and are separate from other utility bills that you receive from Elyria.
How are Stormwater Fees Calculated?
Please note that these are, in fact, fees not a tax. Whether you’re an Elyria residential homeowner or a non-residential property owner, here’s how your Elyria stormwater fees are calculated:
Residential homeowners will pay a fee (not a tax) of $7.95 per quarter (or $31.80 per year). Through a detailed study it was determined that the average single-family and two-family piece of property within the city has 2,700 square feet of impervious area. (“Impervious” means those hard surfaces on a property that cannot absorb stormwater, such as roofs, asphalt, concrete, gravel lots, etc.) This value of “2,700 square feet” is known as one (1) Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). Other cities have used the ERU approach with great success. Here in Elyria, the monthly ERU rate is a very competitive $2.65 per month. We encourage you to compare our rate with others in the state by accessing this PDF that shows Ohio fees.
If you own one or more non-residential properties you will pay a quarterly fee based on how much impervious (non-absorbing) property area you own. You are a non-residential property owner if you own one or more businesses, industries, churches, schools, government buildings, or residential properties that contain three or more units.
For you, we measured the total square footage of impervious area for your property or properties. We then divided that area by 2,700 square feet (one ERU), rounded the result to a whole number, multiplied that number by the monthly ERU rate of $2.65, then multiplied that dollar amount by three (as in “three months”) to get the quarterly rate shown on your bill.
Here’s a hypothetical example of how we calculate a business fee. Joe’s Garage has 27,000 square feet of measured impervious area. So we divided that impervious area measurement by 2,700 square feet (27,000 ÷ 2,700) which resulted in 10 ERUs. We then multiplied the 10 ERUs by the monthly ERU rate of $2.65 (10 ERUs x $2.65 = $26.50) which gave us Joe’s monthly fee. We then multiplied the monthly fee of $26.50 by three (as in “three months”) to arrive at Joe’s quarterly fee of $79.50. This is the “Current Amount Due” on all of Joe’s quarterly bills.
Pay Your Stormwater Utility Bill
- Online at www.cityofelyria.org/utilities
- By Mail. Please include remittance stub, plus check or money order payable to Elyria Public Utilities. Indicate account number on check for proper credit. Mail payment to: City of Elyria, P.O. Box 94594, Cleveland, OH 44101-4594.
- In Person. Cash, check, money order, Visa, or MasterCard. Elyria Public Utilities, 131 Court Street, Suite 102, First Floor. Or at any Discount Drug Mart store.
- Automated Payment Deduction. Payments can be directly withdrawn from any checking or savings account. Contact Public Utilities at 440-326-1570. Or go online for an application form. Offered at no additional cost to homeowners and property owners.
Very-Fair Stormwater Utility Fees*
Did you know that more than 100 communities in Ohio and thousands around the country also have a stormwater utility program — and bill for stormwater utility fees? Elyria held town hall meetings. We conducted input sessions with residents. And we met with business leaders. Many in city government and our engineering department worked hard and smart to accomplish two goals: Obtain the funds we need to be successful, yet keep fees as low as possible. Based on the Western Kentucky University SWU Survey 2014, see how competitive our monthly fee is when compared with similar fees in Ohio:
- At the low end was Butler County, Ohio, with a stormwater utility fee of $1.00 per month per ERU. (ERU is short for “Equivalent Residential Unit,” a proven measurement standard.)
- At the high end was Ironton, Ohio, with a fee of $14.55 per month per ERU.
- Elyria, Ohio’s fee is $2.65 per month, which is one of the five-lowest stormwater utility fees being charged in the state based on 2014 fees.
Where Will the Money Go?
The largest portion of the revenue generated by the stormwater utility fees will be used to comply with federal water-quality regulations. Funds will also be used to begin addressing flooding and drainage projects throughout the city. Work is scheduled to begin in 2016. Go here for a map of current priority projects. To determine construction priorities, we tracked the number of stormwater incidents, then balanced those numbers with a realistic look at which projects could be implemented first.
An Immediate Need to Meet Regulations
Since 2003 the City of Elyria has been required to comply with the unfunded federal mandate known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) water-quality regulations, which are part of the 1972 Clean Water Act. While the act was a noble idea, it was not consistently enforced back then.
Today, non-compliance with NPDES water-quality regulations is a serious matter. Non-compliance can lead to fines and more-serious penalties. In addition, the Ohio EPA performed audits in 2010 and 2012 of the city’s stormwater program and found deficiencies and violations. Until recently, the City of Elyria did not have a dedicated funding source for stormwater management (as it does for other city services). The stormwater utility fees give us that funding — and help us make things right.
Stormwater Utility Plan Timeline
- Ditch Maintenance (Academy Park Area)
- Ditch Project Design
- Drainage Grading
- Headwall Replacement
- Sewer Lining Lateral Rehab
- Spring Valley Design Improvement Design and Culvert Rehab
- St. Jude Backflow Prevention
- Ditch Project Construction
- East Side Relief Sewer Phase I
- St. Jude Sewer Lining Lateral Rehab
- Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Work — Five Sites
- Spring Valley Drainage Improvement Construction
- Water-Quality Improvement Project (East Falls)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Want to get deeper into the stormwater utility program and the stormwater utility fees? Here you can access a detailed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document to view now or read later.
Thank You for Your Help
We understand that fees are never welcome. And that even small fees may create hardship for homeowners, businesses and organizations. But we must all band together and make this happen. The U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA are serious, but also working with the city to comply. No government funding is available. So, we must reach out to you.
Every stormwater fee that you pay will help ensure cleaner water, a healthier city, dryer basements, and a better quality of life for you, your children, and your children’s children.
Two Elyria companies have already stepped up. We thank them for all that they do for the environment.
- BASF crews picked up litter on SR 57 between Gulf Road and Abbe Road as part of the new stormwater utility program.
- Bendix associates pitched in by cleaning up Cascade Park.