Stormwater Utility

What is a Stormwater Management Utility?

The Stormwater Management Utility is a unit within the City that manages stormwater through public right-of-way (ROW) and city property. Like water, wastewater, solid waste, and electric utilities, the Stormwater Management Utility generates its revenue solely through a user fee. All fees collected for the stormwater management utility can only be used for stormwater management activities such as the construction, maintenance, and operation of the public stormwater management system.  

The City of Dubuque is one of over two dozen communities in Iowa and one of a thousand communities across the country that has a Stormwater Management Utility.

Why a Stormwater Management Utility?

Why not pay for stormwater needs with property taxes?

Property taxes are based on property value and have nothing to do with the amount of runoff contributed by the property; with a stormwater utility, properties pay for stormwater based on their runoff contribution. This means that if they contribute more runoff they must also contribute more to managing the runoff.

How was my fee determined?

All fees are based on the measurement of a property's impervious ground coverage. By ordinance, impervious area means the number of square feet of hard-surfaced areas which either prevent or retard the entry of water into soil mantle, as it entered under natural conditions as undeveloped property, and/or cause water to run off the surface in greater quantities or at an increased rate of flow from that present under natural conditions as undeveloped property, including but not limited to roofs, roof extensions, patios, porches, driveways, sidewalks, concrete/asphalt pavement, gravel surfaces, and athletic courts.

There are over 20,000 properties in the City. Over 15,000 of them are residential properties. Instead of utilizing the user fee to measure individual residential properties, the City used a statistical average. Eighty-five percent (85%) of all single-family homes are charged one billing unit called a Single Family Unit (SFU). The current rate is $8.85 per SFU. Homes known to have less than 1,471 square feet of impervious area are charged 1/2 of an SFU while homes with over 4,375 square feet of impervious area are charged 1 1/2 SFUs. For individual non-residential properties, aerial photography, and development plans are used to measure the impervious area. For every 2,917 square feet of impervious area, a non-residential property is charged one SFU.

What about a private stormwater management system?

It is the responsibility of individual property owners to manage stormwater on private property. For those non-residential property owners who were required when they developed their property to install and maintain a private detention basin, a detention basin credit may be available. Learn more about the City of Dubuque Stormwater Management Utility fee reduction credit.