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Fees kick in for New Hanover County's Stormwater Services program, but at a discount

Stormwater flooding a road with stalled cars in the background
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According to New Hanover County, it's important to manage stormwater to reduce flood risks that may impact public safety and loss or damage of property, and prevent polluted stormwater from flowing directly into rivers and streams.

New Hanover County's Stormwater Services is on track to collect fees this year — but with lower rates, at least temporarily. Single-family residential properties are expected to each pay around $12 for the program until June 2022.

The county’s Stormwater Services began in July 2020, but fees weren't collected due to the impacts of COVID-19. Instead, around $4 million in funding provided through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program was used to remove debris caused by hurricanes, and improve the flow of stormwater in local watersheds.

For its second year — which runs from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022 — the county will use American Rescue Plan funding to pay a portion of the Stormwater Services costs. Through this funding, the program’s fees will be at a rate of $1 per Equivalent Rate Unit (ERU) per month. Next year, once the funding is exhausted, the fee is expected to return to $5.65 per ERU a month.

This means that a single-family residential property will pay a flat-rate fee of $1 per month – or $12 per year – for the program this year. Commercial properties, nonprofits, churches, and any other non-residential properties will be charged a fee based on their impervious surface area using the $1 ERU per month rate. You can see how that fee is calculated by visiting Engineering.NHCgov.com/Drainage.

The stormwater fee will be billed as a separate line item on New Hanover County tax bills in August for property owners in the unincorporated county, and will not be applied to properties that have not been developed. Properties within the City of Wilmington or any the beach towns will also not be charged a fee through the county.

And in addition to the lower rates, properties with a county stormwater permit will see a discount of 31% automatically applied to the fee for both residential and non-residential properties.

“We have been working over the past year to clear out debris and create better stormwater flow in several watersheds in the unincorporated areas of the county, and also assess the current stormwater system and conveyances,” said County Engineer Jim Iannucci.

“Now we will start prioritizing maintenance for existing drainage easements where it is needed most. Residents may not see our teams right away clearing out their ditches – because that will take time. But what you will see is our crews focusing on the easements in highest need, and then working our way throughout the entire unincorporated areas," he said.

New Hanover County says the program will help ensure the continued upkeep of the stormwater management system throughout the unincorporated areas of the county, create a more strategic and comprehensive approach to stormwater management, and relieve property owners of the responsibility of maintaining and cleaning ditches and pipes on their property.

Learn more

Information about how non-residential property fees are calculated, as well as a look at discounts available to property owners, can be found at Engineering.NHCgov.com/Drainage.

In addition, the county will hold a drop-in online public meeting via Zoom on Wednesday, June 23, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for residents to ask questions, learn more about the program and the fees. Businesses and non-profits are especially encouraged to attend, as county staff will be able to look up a property and help calculate fees based on impervious surfaces.