Frequently Asked Questions

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Stormwater Utility Fees


  • How much is the stormwater charge?
The specific rate is $5.30 per month for a single family home in Bend. Non-single family parcels (multi-family/commercial/industrial) will pay a multiple of this base charge depending on the measured amount of impervious area on their property (one equivalent residential unit (ERU) is 3,800 square feet of impervisous surface coverage).

  • How much will my bill be?

For single-family residences, $5.30 a month. Commercial and multi-residential properties will be charged according to their measured impervious area.

  • How much money will this service fee raise?

    Approximately $2.4 million annually. This program will fund operations, maintenance, capital improvements, development review, utility administrative services, field inspection, and stormwater quality regulatory compliance.
  • What is the service charge based on?
The service charge is based on the amount of impervious surface area within a property. Impervious surface area is the best indicator of how much you use the stormwater system. Single-family homes provide the basis for the rate in that the average amount of impervious area on a single-family residence in Bend, based on a recent study sample of 100 randomly selected lots, is just over 3,800 square feet or 1 equivalent residential unit (ERU). All non single-family parcels pay a multiple of this base rate according to their measured impervious area.

  • Is this a one-time charge?
It is an ongoing monthly service charge for the development of a stormwater maintenance program, operations, facilities, and water quality compliance.

  • Is there a review process for this service charge?
Yes. It will include a review of the accuracy of the City's measurements or the calculation of the service fee for non-residential customers.

  • Is this stormwater charge deductible on my income tax?
For residential customers, this is a service fee and not a tax. It cannot be deducted from your income tax. For non-single family property owners, the charge may be considered a cost of doing business by the IRS depending on your specific tax situation.

  • How are condominiums charged?

Condos are billed in one of two ways:

  1. Condominium units are included under Bend's definition of single family residential. Therefore they will be charged as 1 ERU. However, in cases where this definition overstates the actual amount of impervious surface, the entire complex can be measured and the bill sent to the Condominium Owner's Association,
  2. In cases where each unit is billed separately for water and sewer service, a prorated bill will be sent to each unit.
  • How is property measured?
Impervious area on non-residential properties was originally measured from June 2006 satellite photos with the actual measurement done via computer imaging. This produces a high degree of accuracy.  A process is in place to record the impervious surface area of new and redevelopments constructed since June 2006.  The impervious surface coverage areas are periodically audited, including against more recent satellite photgraphs to maintain high accuracy.

  • How can you impose this fee without a vote?
This is not a tax but a user fee. The Bend Council has been involved with reviewing a number of options for funding stormwater management. We have also worked directly with the Stormwater Utility Fee Citizens Task Force to discuss the fee and program.

  • How can I get help with a neighborhood stormwater problem?
Give us a call at 541-317-3000 ext 2 and we will be happy to see what can be done.

  • How can I be sure this money won't pay for other City projects?
Under law, stormwater fees may not exceed the cost of providing stormwater improvements and services. Your fees will go into an "enterprise" or special fund which will be used only to pay for the stormwater program.

  • How will you decide which stormwater projects/improvements get done first?
One of the initial actions of the stormwater utility was to inventory all the existing drainage system needs and develop an overall improvement plan. This plan will prioritize existing needs based on both stormwater quantity and quality considerations. For more information, see the Stormwater Master Plan information.

  • I don't want my dollars going to pay for helping out somebody half a City away from me.
The City has an obligation to address the most critical problems first. Every area of the City will eventually require stormwater improvements or services.

  • Will this money attract grants and other money; for example, for State and Federal projects?

Yes, we expect to be more competitive for any funds which become available, especially those related to stormwater quality where City service charge revenues may be required to collateral federal or state loans. 

Grants have been received from the State already to improve our understanding of groundwater, well delineation areas and protection work.  Grants have also been received for related improvement projects that include stormwater quality facility improvements.

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  • Who has to pay?
All developed property within the City will pay the stormwater service fee. That includes houses, schools, public facilities, churches and businesses. The only exceptions are streets within the City and streets within planned residential developments. These areas are excluded because they are designed to collect and carry stormwater runoff.

  • I am a renter, do I pay the fee or does the landlord?
Under most conditions, the bill will go to whoever pays the City's water and sewer bill for the property.

  • Why are churches and schools being billed?
The service charge, just like water and sewer fees, is based upon the cost of services provided. Because this is not a tax, it is collected from all customers who receive service. Churches and schools contribute a significant amount of runoff to the City because of their size and amount of hard surface. They will be treated like all other customers under the rate structure.

  • What is the concern about stormwater quality?
Stormwater quality is "nonpoint source pollution". As the name implies, nonpoint source pollution comes from numerous locations and is carried through runoff to either the aquifer or to the Deschutes River. The City has been issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permit as of February 2007, which establishes what the City needs to do in order to comply with this law. The City has also applied for its Underground Injection Control Permit that includes stormwater quality requirements for drywells and drill holes, and is awaiting approval from the regulatory agencies. The types of pollutants include toxins, metals, oils, nutrients and fecal coliform. These directly impact water quality and now represent a large percentage of the pollution picture. 

  • What is impervious surface?
When property is improved through buildings, pavement, trafficked gravel/soil, hardscape patios and artificial turf, water is prevented or retarded from getting into the soil. These areas are termed impervious surfaces because they restrict natural infiltration of water into the soil and increase runoff from the property.

  • Where does the money go?
Some of the other important components of this program include:
a) increased maintenance of the City's stormwater system
b) development of stormwater design standards and regulations
c) field inspection/enforcement of these standards
d) public information and education
e) construction of capital facilities
f) water quality regulatory compliance.
For more information click " What Are Your Stormwater Fees Paying For "

  • Has this program been used anywhere else?
Yes. Large and small communities throughout the nation have adopted stormwater control programs and applied user fees. Most of the Portland Metro cities have stormwater utilities in place along with other cities including Roseburg, Medford, Ashland, Springfield, Central Point, Talent, Eugene, Corvallis and many other Oregon cities.

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  • Why should I have to pay? I have a small house with a large lawn and live at the top of a hill on a private street.
You might not have a problem, but the runoff generated from your property contributes to the overall problem. Fertilizer from your lawn adds phosphates, a key pollutant carried in storm sewer. Eventually, everybody will share in the program through an improved environment, better access to public roads and right-of-ways during storm events and reduced flooding during abnormal years.

  • Why just one flat rate for residential properties?

Most residences are very similar in their impervious areas. In most cities, 95% of the homes are clustered very closely in terms of impervious order to apply a second tier for larger homes we would have to measure all the homes in Bend. This would have been expensive and not gain us much in terms of fairness.

  • My home/business is not connected to the City's drainage system. Therefore, why should I have to pay?

Your property may not be physically connected to the drainage system in the same manner as water or sewer but you and your property are still provided service. How? The City's stormwater program improves and maintains those upstream stormwater facilities that protect your property; they establish design criteria/regulate development that helps control off site stormwater problems; the program is taking steps to reduce stormwater pollutants that affect the Deschutes River and the drinking water quality of all citizens in Bend (whether they have City of Bend, private well, Avion, or Roats water service. Every property and person in Bend is served by these activities.

  • What happens if I don't pay?
We have an excellent payment history with most of our customers and have been able to help them remain current with their bills. Unpaid bills will be referred for follow up action.

  • Isn't there already a fund for stormwater or drainage?
Money from the City's General Fund and Street Fund historically provided some limited funding. Those funds were very limited and not always available.

  • Why not charge a property tax or better still, turn the program over to the state of Oregon?
Property taxes are based upon the assessed valuation of land and their improvements. These values have little relationship to an individual property's use of the storm drainage system. A service fee, applied to all parcels, is a more equitable method of funding the program. Many tax-exempt properties, such as schools and churches, are large contributors to the stormwater runoff problem. They will pay their share of the utility fee.

  • Isn't this money just going to take care of the drainage problems created by new development in Bend?
No. Every developer in Bend is required to provide the drainage improvements necessary to handle the runoff generated by that development. These improvements are not funded by the City and WILL NOT be funded by stormwater service charges. New development facilities are totally funded by the developer. System development charges (SDCs) for new development will be revisited once the Master Plan is completed (estimated December 2013) because the Master Plan will provide the necessary technical basis to develop appropriate SDCs. All impervious area created by these new developments will be included within the stormwater utility and will pay the service fee just as everyone else in the City. For these fees, they will receive stormwater services... just as everyone else in the City.

  • Why are churches and schools being billed?
The service charge, just like water and sewer fees, is based upon the cost of services provided. Because this is not a tax, it is collected from all customers who receive service. Churches and schools contribute a significant amount of runoff to the City because of their size and amount of hard surface. They will be treated like all other customers under the rate structure.

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All impervious area within a multi-tenant facility such as a shopping center or apartment is consolidated into one bill. The bill will be sent to the person responsible for the improvements or management association.

  • I have put in stormwater management facilities on my development. Shouldn't this be reflected in a reduced charge?

There are credits available for those providing water quantity and quality facilities beyond City standards. The City has established a service charge reduction for those having qualifying facilities on-site. Depending on the design of the facility, this may be eligible for a credit. Credit application forms are available on the City's website at htttp://  Select "I want to..." from the top menu and then "Stormwater Fee Credit" from the drop down menu.  Or you may request an application by calling 541-317-3000 ext 2.

  • The City required I build all these parking spaces. Why should I have to pay a service charge for them now?
Parking spaces are based on standard estimates of traffic and need, and are a necessary requirement of doing business.


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