Monroe County established a stormwater fee in 2011. The fee provides a funding mechanism for maintaining and improving stormwater infrastructure in Monroe County, and to improve public health and safety through clean water and reduced flood hazards.
The goals of the stormwater operations program are:
- to ensure that Monroe County's lakes and streams are fishable and swimmable
- to identify flood control projects that enhance public health and safety
- to comply with Phase II of the Clean Water Act
Quick Clean Water Act History
1972 - Focused on wastewater treatment facilities
1987 - Phase I required entities that serve 100,000 people or more to apply for a permit for stormwater runoff. This included Indianapolis
1994 - Report to Congress stated that stormwater discharges from non-Phase 1 sources remain significant causes to water quality impairment
1999 - Phase II - entities less than 100,000 people regulated. This included Ellettsville, Ivy Tech, Indiana University, Bloomington and unincorporated Monroe County. There is no federal or state funding for this program and it is our responsibility to meet the federal requirements.
Rule 13 or 327 Indiana Administrative Code 15-13-1 outlines our clean water responsibilities. 22 Indiana counties are required to implement Phase II of the Clean Water Act.
Indiana Code 8-1.5-5 amended in 2004 to allow counties to establish stormwater fees
Monroe County is one of 22 Indiana counties that are regulated under Rule 13, Indiana's implementation of Phase II of the Clean Water Act. In 2004, the Indiana Code was amended to allow counties to establish stormwater utilities. Since that time, 7 of the regulated counties have established stormwater utilities: Delaware, Elkhart, Floyd, Howard, Lake, and Warrick.
Marion County established a stormwater utility in 2001 as a consolidated city. The city of Bloomington and the town of Ellettsville have also enacted stormwater utilities. More information on Indiana stormwater utilities is available on the Utility Links page.
The Stormwater Ordinance (Chapter 766, Stormwater Fee and Fund) was approved by the Monroe County Commissioners on July 1, 2011. The Monroe County Council approved the stormwater fee on July 26, 2011. The ordinance was amended April 19, 2013.
A presentation on the proposed stormwater fee was held at the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District on Thursday, April 14, 2011.
For a schedule of Storm Water Management Board meetings, visit the Stormwater Meetings page.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What will the fee pay for?
Sand and mud will be cleaned out of pipes that carry water from ditches and creeks under roads. Dirt will also be cleared from roads and road shoulders. Leaves and other debris will be cleaned from clogged storm inlets. Muddy water from construction sites will be minimized. Runoff from developed areas will be slowed down so that downstream flooding hazards and channel erosion are reduced. Practices will be put in place and maintained to reduce pollutants that drain into our lakes and streams. These practices help us comply with the Clean Water Act.
2. Why should I have to pay? I live out in the country and have no drainage problem.
You may not have a problem, but the runoff from your property can contribute to downstream flooding and water quality problems. A responsible approach recognizes that everyone contributes to runoff and that everyone shares in the results (better road drainage, cleaner water, and reduced flooding). For example, there are about four pipes that cross under each mile of county road, and these need to be cleaned and sometimes replaced.
3. Doesn’t the County already have funding in place for stormwater issues?
Historically, money from the Highway Department has provided limited funding for stormwater operations. However, these funds can be used only within road rights of way and are needed not only for drainage but for road maintenance such as resurfacing, pothole repair and snow and ice removal.
4. Do residents of Bloomington and Ellettsville have to pay the county stormwater fee?
While residents of incorporated areas do not pay the County stormwater fee, Bloomington has had its own stormwater fee since 1998 and in 2008 Ellettsville started one.
5. How is the stormwater fee determined?
For each single or two family residential unit and for each condominium, the annual fee is $35.16. This is based on the average area of hard surfaces such as driveways and rooftops that allow little or no rainfall to soak into the ground.
For most everything else, the hard surface area has been measured for each parcel. The greater the hard surface area, the greater the fee. Monroe County Chapter 766 gives more detailed information about how fees are determined.
6. Why is the fee the same for all single family residential properties?
The fee is the same because it would have been expensive to measure the hard surface areas on all residential parcels and update this each year. By applying an average amount of hard surface for all residential parcels, the fee for home owners is kept as low as possible.
7. Is there a way to reduce my stormwater fee?
Not yet, but credits are being studied by the Monroe County Stormwater Advisory Council. Practices that encourage rain and runoff to soak into the ground or that store water such as detention ponds are being considered because they can help offset the increased runoff from hard surfaces.
8. What is stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff is water from rain or melting snow that runs off into receiving streams and lakes instead of seeping into the ground or evaporating. This runoff is not normally treated in any way before it enters lakes and streams. It does not go to a wastewater treatment plant.
9. What problems can runoff cause?
For water supply, communities must pay more to clean polluted water than clean water, and the treated water is not as pure as that coming from a clean water source. Treatment may not completely remove taste and odor problems if the source water is not clean. Property owners do not like muddy water or water containing trash or that has an odor draining onto their property. Polluted water also hurts the wildlife in creeks and lakes. Dirt from erosion covers fish habitats and fertilizer in runoff causes too much algae to grow. Soap in runoff hurts fish gills and skin.
The amount of stormwater can also be a problem too. When rain falls on hard surfaces like roofs and driveways, it cannot seep into the ground, so it quickly runs off to lower areas. A parking lot sheds 16 times more water from a one-inch rainfall than a meadow.
10. Who oversees Stormwater Operations?
Stormwater operations are overseen by the Stormwater Management Board. The three County Commissioners and the County Surveyor serve on this Board.
11. Are sanitary sewers and storm drains the same thing?
No. Storm drains collect and carry runoff from rainfall. Storm drains do not remove pollutants from runoff before it is discharged into receiving streams. Storm inlets are typically found in parking lots and near street curbs. Sanitary sewers collect wastewater from indoor plumbing, such as toilets, sinks, washing machines, and some floor drains, and take it to a wastewater treatment plant.
12. What is the clean water program?
Unincorporated Monroe County is regulated under the Clean Water Act. That means we are required to have a program that addresses public awareness, public participation, illicit discharge detection and elimination, sediment and erosion control practices for construction sites, long term clean water practices such as ponds and rain gardens, and setting a good example with county projects.
13. How can I make a difference?
Preventing pollution from entering water is more affordable than cleaning polluted water. Here are some ways to make a difference:
a) Avoid fertilizing lawns or use slow-release lawn fertilizer with low or no phosphorus and follow label directions to avoid applying too much. Runoff from fertilized lawns can cause algal blooms in downstream ponds.
b) Minimize herbicide and insecticide use. Follow label directions and avoid application when rain is in the forecast for the next 24 to 48 hours. Use landscaping that does not require heavy use of herbicides, insecticides, or fertilizer. Consider lawn naturalization.
c) Wash vehicles at a car wash or in your lawn (avoid car washing in driveways where soap can easily run off into storm drains).
d) Have septic systems periodically checked and pumped.
e) Fix oil and antifreeze leaks from your vehicles.
f) Make sure that lawn areas are vegetated and stable (not eroding). Plant trees.
g) Clean driveways and garages with a broom as opposed to hosing them down.
h) Pick up pet waste and dispose of it in a waste receptacle.
i) Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Avoid dumping used oil, soapy water, paint, or other liquid wastes down storm drains.
j) Avoid putting lawn waste near ditches or creeks.
k) Install practices such as rain gardens that filter runoff and promote infiltration. Permeable pavers can be used on top of open-graded stone to create driveways and sidewalks that allow rain to soak into the ground. Allow downspout water an opportunity to soak into the ground (at least a few feet away from the foundation) instead of connecting it directly to a storm drain or street gutter.