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A stormwater utility is a County-created, separate entity that has been established to fund operations and maintenance functions on existing stormwater infrastructure, administration of the County’s federally-mandated municipal permit, engineering and technical review staff, and the design and construction of capital improvements.
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Stormwater is rain or snow that falls on streets, parking areas, rooftops and other developed land and either flows directly into nearby streams or travels there through drainage systems, such as curbs and gutters, inlets, storm sewers, detention ponds and channels. The flows are then discharged, untreated, into Georgetown County’s streams and creeks.
Everyone benefits. residents, business and industry owners, students, visitors and developers all benefit. It protects roadways, property, receiving streams and other waters. It addresses both flooding and water quality concerns.
Stormwater Utility Fee Ordinance (PDF)
It is a guidance and performance tool of the stormwater program. It contains rules and minimum requirements for the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of all new drainage facilities within Georgetown County.
To request a stormwater plan review, you need to submit a completed and signed stormwater application and a completed/signed stormwater submittal checklist.
Georgetown County faces a number of stormwater problems:
The County studied these problems and how they might be solved, and after looking at all the options for solving these problems, found that this was the best path. A stormwater fee is the most equitable revenue source to solve the County’s stormwater problems. The stormwater program will enable the County to comply with federal regulations as well as protect our community through improved drainage and protection of local waters. After studying the issue, the County Council passed an ordinance establishing the stormwater enterprise fund after three readings, on June 12th, 2007.
The county charges permitting fees for stormwater, which pay a portion of the cost for reviewing new development. In the future, additional state and federal program monies, such as grants, may be obtained for certain types of projects.
A stormwater utility is the fairest way to operate and maintain the county’s stormwater system, meet the requirements of the federal water quality permit and add capital improvements to mitigate existing flooding, erosion and sedimentation problems. Those that generate stormwater runoff from their properties will pay to fund the stormwater system.
The general fund budget has historically been used to fund stormwater operations. However, this source of revenue is used to fund many other county programs. In the past, higher priority has been given to the other general fund programs. Therefore, needed improvements and maintenance for the stormwater system have been delayed due to a lack of available funds.
The general fund is limited in the amount of revenue it receives each year. Boosting stormwater funding only through the general fund would result in cuts to other programs, such as public safety and parks. General fund revenues that were used for stormwater will now be made available for other programs.
A service fee is a charge imposed on property for the purpose of defraying the cost of a particular government service, such as countywide stormwater drainage. The service fee funds can only be spent on providing that service. A tax is imposed on property, acts, events or occurrences to provide revenue to pay any of the general expenses of government. The tax revenue can be used to pay for other government activities, such as fire, zoning, streets and libraries.
Stormwater fees are like those of other utilities such as water and sanitary sewer, which are based on the demand a user places upon the utility system. In the case of the stormwater user fee, each property’s stormwater runoff places demand on the County’s system of pipes, channels and flood and pollution control structures that make up the stormwater system. The stormwater system costs money to operate and maintain, and it must function properly to carry stormwater safely, decrease pollution and prevent flooding.
Impervious surfaces are hard surfaces that do not allow rain or snow to infiltrate at the same rate as natural surface, like grass or dirt. It includes surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, patio areas, sidewalks, parking lots and other man-made structures.
In general, compacted gravel areas engineered and maintained for vehicle travel may be considered impervious.
If your property is located on a Georgetown County-owned road you may put your request in with Georgetown County Public Works. You may contact them at 843-545-3438 or put in a work order with the County’s work order system called "At Your Request."
A Georgetown County Land Disturbance Permit is required when planning to subdivide land, planning to sell land, develop a commercial site, develop a residential site, or develop a multifamily residential site that is 0.5 acres and within 0.5 miles from a major water body, or 1 acre. Please visit the Georgetown County Stormwater Management website to access the flow chart to help you determine if your activity requires a Georgetown County Land Disturbance Permit.
To apply for a Georgetown County Land Disturbance Permit you will need to email a complete submittal to the Stormwater Department. For specific questions or to set up a preliminary submittal meeting, please call the office directly at 843-545-3524.
If you are planning on doing any work in the right-of-way of a Georgetown County-owned road, you will need an encroachment permit. Please submit a completed Georgetown County encroachment application (PDF), site plan, and review fee credit form by emailing Public Services.
Georgetown County Department of Public Services (DPS) manages a Watershed Team where members (made up of DPS Staff) discuss drainage problems that were submitted by Public Works or by citizens that were beyond routine maintenance. Discussions on how to solve the drainage issues lead to drainage studies and ultimately to designing drainage improvement projects. All drainage construction projects throughout the County are a direct result of a drainage service request. Many drainage projects need easements or access to install a drainage ditch or pipe on private property.
Georgetown County can only work on (in) Georgetown County-owned property, right-of-way, or a Georgetown County Easement. Georgetown County cannot work on a state (South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT)) road or private property. Many drainage systems flow across private property, state property, and County-owned roads. It is only on the County property that the County can work. When the County designs a drainage improvement project where easement may need to be acquired, staff seeks easements from private property owners. As a property owner, you’re not required to provide an easement to the County for the drainage improvement project, however, for some projects, without an easement, the project cannot be constructed.
The Stormwater Division will be happy to provide more information on the stormwater program. Call 843-545-3524 to talk to a staff member.