What is Stormwater?
After rain falls to the ground, one of three things can happen:
- the water soaks into the ground (becoming groundwater);
- it evaporates into the air; or
- it runs off (becoming stormwater), eventually reaching a stream, river, or lake.
As an area becomes more developed with roads, buildings, driveways, decks, and parking lots, more water runs into nearby streams and lakes and less is absorbed into the ground.
When the runoff from these surfaces enters a stream, it brings with it sand, dirt, salt, metals, fertilizer, and other pollutants, and raises the stream's temperature. This harms the health of the stream.
Bangor is fortunate to have a number of streams. The Kenduskeag Stream and others contribute to the beauty, environmental health, and quality of life of the City. Like many other urban streams in Maine, though, several of these streams do not meet water quality standards set and enforced by the state and federal governments. As a result, the City needs to take a number of actions to improve the health of the streams, including building stormwater management structures, preventing improper discharges, and educating property owners about pollution prevention.
In order to help pay for these actions, the City created a stormwater utility.
On May 30, 2012, the City of Bangor passed an ordinance creating a stormwater utility. The goal of the utility is to provide funding to deal with stormwater and the problems it creates.
Federal and state regulations require the City to improve the health of our streams and rivers, and are becoming increasingly stringent. Many of these requirements involve stormwater. There are a number of actions the City needs to do, including educating people about stormwater, putting in stormwater management systems, and preventing improper discharges to the stormwater system. These actions require funding.
One alternative is to raise taxes to pay for this stormwater work. If we do this, tax-exempt organizations such as government agencies and nonprofits will pay nothing for their properties. Additionally, properties will be assessed according to their value, not according to how much they contribute to stormwater problems.
A second alternative is to pay for that same work through a stormwater utility. This utility spreads the additional cost of stormwater compliance across properties in the City with impervious cover, including governments and nonprofits. It does this by charging a fee based on the amount of impervious cover a property has, so that the fee represents how much a property is contributing to our stormwater problems.
For these reasons, the City has created a stormwater fee that will start being charged shortly. The fee will be $22 per year for the first 3000 feet of impervious cover on a property, and $11 for each 1000 feet in addition. If your property has at least 4000 feet of impervious cover and you take extra steps to mitigate stormwater, you may qualify for a credit.
Our goal in creating this utility is to pay for necessary work through a method that imposes the least possible burden on the property owners and citizens of Bangor. If you have additional questions, please see our Utility FAQs or email firstname.lastname@example.org.