Storm Water Management
This web page is designed to briefly
describe the utility and provide information on its billing
and operating practices, but is not intended to fully explain
every detail and aspect of storm water utility operations.
More detailed information on utility operations can be obtained
by contacting the City at 715-373-6160.
Background: The City of Washburn's Storm
Water Management Utility provides a major benefit to its residents.
Washburn has joined a small but growing number of municipalities
who are beginning to manage storm water systematically. These
communities are working proactively to correct storm water
issues before unbridled runoff damages public and private
The Washburn Storm Water Management Utility
is intended to be self-supporting just like the City's water
and waste water utilities. Revenue collected from storm water
utility services are used for storm water management and no
other purpose. The monthly utility fees will pay for the operation,
maintenance, and capital improvements of the City's storm
water system. The utility will work to solve drainage issues,
prevent future problems, and repair, maintain, and carry out
best management practices to enhance the ability of the community
to handle storm drainage and runoff.
Creation of the Utility: Discussion on
the creation of a storm water utility has occurred since the
heavy rainfalls of 2000 and 2001 caused considerable public
and private property damage within the City. Active discussions
in the establishment of the utility evolved as part of the
planning of the recent 120 block water and waste water utility
renovation and extension project. The Council determined it
was important to incorporate improvements in the manner in
which storm water is handled within the reconstructed streets
of the sewer and water construction corridor.
In the spring of 2005, the City commissioned
SEH, a professional service provider with storm water management
expertise, to undertake a study to analyze the feasibility
of a utility approach in this community's management of storm water.
The report of SEH was received by the Common Council in June,
2005, and on July 25, 2005, the Council adopted the ordinance
that ultimately created the utility. Since that time, an information
open house has been held for interested property owners and
information on the utility has been distributed within the
Washburn City News, the community's quarterly newsletter and
other media outlets. Administrative staff of the City have
also been working diligently on integrating storm water utility
billing within the City's accounting and billing programs.
Why Do We Need A Storm Water Management Utility? In the past, the City of Washburn was able to ignore storm
water management issues. However, greater environmental awareness,
the inability of existing storm water conveyance systems to
handle regularly occurring runoff increased the need for better
storm water management solutions. With each passing storm,
it became more and more apparent that current storm water
management problems were not being addressed and the development
of long range plans were needed to minimize future problems.
Storm water management can no longer be addressed
solely by building larger pipes and drains to get rid of storm
water. All properties, regardless of their location in the
watershed, have an impact on storm water drainage. storm water
needs to be viewed from a total management perspective. The
utility permits this approach to be undertaken.
Pervious surfaces allow rain to seep into the
ground, whereas impervious surfaces block this absorption.
Rain which used to be absorbed into the ground now covered
by impervious surfaces, such as roofs, sidewalks, driveways,
has to go somewhere. It runs off your land onto your neighbors,
or into the City's storm water conveyance system which collects
the runoff from drainage basins, streets, and roads via ditches,
gutters, catch basins, gullies, ravines, drainage swales and
stream channels. Washburn needs a storm water management system
that retains water on the properties that generate storm water,
doesn't overload conveyance and handling systems, eliminates
flooding, minimizes environmental degradation and thereby
improves living conditions within the City of Washburn. The
monthly storm water charge provides an incentive for the largest
generators of storm water - commercial, industrial and institutional
properties, to incorporate best management practices within
Funding of Storm Water Management: In
the past, the City funded storm water management primarily
through the general fund, i.e, property taxes. It has also
utilized special assessments to cover improvements within
specific areas of the community.
Funding of storm water improvements via property
taxes is considered to be inequitable because: 1) tax-exempt
properties generate storm water but do not contribute revenue
towards storm water management; and 2) the assessed value of
property, which determines its property tax, is not proportional
to the property's ability to generate run off. Antiquated
community storm water handling methods, ongoing community flooding,
conveyance systems outside of the public domain along with
the need to institute best management practices, have increased
the need to assure a revenue stream for improved storm water
management in Washburn.
Storm water Utility Staff: It is not
anticipated that additional personnel will be needed to administer
the storm water utility. The City's administrative, public
works, and utility departments will be assigned various responsibilities
required to run the storm water utility.
Billing For Service
Sharing the Cost: We all agree that residential,
commercial, institutional, and industrial customers should
pay for their water, waste water, solid waste, electric, and
gas service based upon their relative use of these utility
systems. The fairest way to pay for storm water management
is to charge property owners for the amount of storm water
generated based upon the use of the property. During the development
of the current sewer and water renovation and extension project,
the Council heard from many residents that improvements that
are of a benefit to the whole community should be paid for
by the whole community. That philosophy, in part, drove interest
in the creation of the storm water management utility.
Utility Rates: The rates to be charged
by the City's Storm Water Management Utility were developed
within the SEH feasibility study. The current rate structure
was adopted by the Council on September 15, 2005. Residential
charges (single and two family dwellings) are based on a fixed
fee per living unit. Commercial, industrial, and institutional
parcels are based on a per acre charge. Vacant lands, parks,
cemeteries, roads and streets are exempt from storm water
Storm Water Utility Credits: Beginning
in 2006, credits on monthly stormwater utility bills will
be offered to commercial, institutional, and industrial customers
who implement best management practices on their lands to
minimize the amount of storm water entering the public conveyance
system. Credits will not be issued unless they are applied
for and will not be provided until a best management practice
is installed and functioning. Information on best management
practices for handling stormwater may be acquired by contacting
the offices of UW-Extension or the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources or their respective websites.
For More Information:
Non-Emergency Phone Numbers:
For questions about drainage issues, plugged
catch basins and culverts, overflows or flooding, call the
Public Works Department at 3736171, between 7:00 AM and 3:30
PM Monday - Friday (except holidays).
Fo billing questions, call the Washburn City
Hall at 373-6160, between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday
In emergency, the Washburn Public Works Department
may be contacted seven days a week between the hours of 3:30
PM and 7 AM 373-6120.