Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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1.  Why is a Stormwater Utility Necessary?
2.  How is the Utility funded?
3.  How is the Service Fee Calculated?
4.  How is the Utility Fee Billed?
5.  How Can I Qualify For a Credit Against My Fee?
6.  I Have a Drainage Problem? Who Do I Contact?

For additional information about the Stormwater Utility Program or Stormwater Quality, please email our Customer Service Department or contact our office at (706) 855-RAIN (7246).




Why is a Stormwater Utility Necessary?

Urban development in Columbia County has resulted in many problems within the existing stormwater drainage system. Problems such as increased flooding, stream widening and bank erosion, changes in channel beds due to sedimentation, and stormwater quality issues are pervasive throughout the urbanized portions of Columbia County. Coupled with these problems is one of an aging infrastructure. Subdivisions built in the 1970s are seeing significant problems due to issues such as the failure of metal pipe, which has a life expectancy of 25 years.

A comprehensive evaluation of the community's stormwater management needs and opportunities was undertaken starting in 1998.  As a result, the Columbia County Board of Commissioners established a Stormwater Management Utility, which commenced billing in October 2000. The Utility provides dedicated funding, enabling the County to initiate comprehensive, watershed-based projects, instead of the existing, largely reactive program. 


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How is the Utility funded?

The Stormwater Utility is funded by a service fee, similar to the water and sewer fees. Revenues are dedicated solely to stormwater management within the designated Stormwater Utility Service Area.  The stormwater fee is charged to all developed properties and is based on the amount of impervious area on each property.  Impervious areas (e.g., rooftops and paving) dramatically increase stormwater runoff and the amount of pollutants in stormwater. The impervious area has been determined using measurements taken on each property. The charge for a single family residence or non-residential property is $0.1475 per month for every 100 square feet. 


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How is the Service Fee Calculated?

Impervious area is the single most important factor influencing stormwater runoff. Urban and suburban development replaces natural ground surfaces with impervious surfaces, causing more stormwater to run off the land, rather than soak into the soil. The peak rate and total volume of runoff is greatly increased, causing more flooding and channel erosion. Studies have also shown that impervious area causes more pollution to be swept away in stormwater.

Columbia County's stormwater utility service fee is based on the amount of impervious area on each property. Each 100 square feet of impervious area is billed $0.1475 per month. The charges to commercial, industrial, and other properties with large impervious areas are substantially more than single-family residential properties because they create much more runoff.


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How is the Utility Fee Billed?

The stormwater service fee is billed on your monthly water and sewer bill. You can pay the total bill (including water and sewer fees) with a single check.  The money from each service fee is divided among the three utilities by the County's accounting system. Water payments pay only for water supply services, wastewater (sewer) payments apply only to sewer collection and treatment, and stormwater fee payments are used solely for stormwater management.

Some people do not receive water and sewer services from the County, but own property in the stormwater service area with impervious surface. These people will receive a "stormwater only" bill. No developed properties will be exempt from the stormwater service charge.


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How Can I Qualify For A Credit Against My Fee?

If your property has a retention or detention facility, such as a pond, you may be eligible for a reduction in your monthly stormwater service fee.   The Service Charge Credit Technical Manual contains all of the information you need to apply for a service fee credit. If approved, your credit will appear on your next Stormwater Utility bill.  If you have been denied, a letter will be sent to you explaining why you have not qualified for the credit.  Please email our Customer Service Department or call our office at 706-855-RAIN (7246) for additional information.


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I Have A Drainage Problem.  Who Do I Contact?

The Stormwater Utility Department has been assembling information on known drainage problems for several years, but is not necessarily aware of every problem. They may or may not already know about the problem you want to report. We have established a general priority for addressing problems based on fixing the worst problems first. The highest priorities are problems that pose a danger to people and those that threaten serious property damage.

If you have a drainage problem that has resulted from a Columbia County road or the County's stormwater infrastructure, please 
email our Customer Service Department or call our office at 706-855-RAIN (7246). 

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