Water Resources Program  |  Stormwater Utility Water Resources Programs



When established, the stormwater utility is intended to fully support various programs implemented by the County to protect local and regional water resources from pollution and to maintain the integrity of natural resources and built infrastructure. The utility would cover staff salaries, other operational costs, and the costs of designing and constructing capital projects.

Ongoing Program Expansion

Due to increased regulatory mandates and ambitious objectives identified in the Board’s Strategic Plan, the breadth of programs implemented by the County is expected to continue to expand. Programs mandated by state and federal rules include: Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP)On July 1, 2014, the County began administering a revised and expanded program to regulate land disturbing activities and land development.

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)The County administers a number of programs to minimize the amount of pollutants discharging from developed areas into State waters or through storm sewer systems.

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Beginning in 2014, the County has been required to contribute towards as the cleanup of local streams and the Chesapeake Bay. Over time, these requirements may change based on the condition of the Bay and local streams.

Dam Safety and Floodplain Management The County operates six State-regulated dams and is in the process of responding to more stringent standards adopted in 2008. The County is also responsible for ensuring that land development and other activities do not result in increased flood hazards. Some program components go beyond meeting regulatory mandates in order to achieve broad goals articulated in the Strategic Plan, including:

  • •Investing in Critical Infrastructure – A vast and expanding system of inlets, pipes, and channels – primarily built by private developers on private property – is aging and in need of repair and maintenance. The County is moving towards an asset management program to systematically maintain those portions of the system that serve a public purpose.

  • •Protecting Ecosystems and Natural Resources – Data and analysis from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and StreamWatch suggest that most streams throughout the County fail the Virginia standard for being considered “healthy”. The County is exploring ways to address these impairments through investments such as management practices and capital projects.

Program Summary The County programs to be supported by the utility – and the State programs under which they are mandated, if applicable – are summarized below.

Program Plan Elements State Mandate

pollution prevention

construction site erosion and pollution control long-term stormwater management on developed properties


public education and involvement illicit discharge detection and elimination

good housekeeping on County properties public stormwater facility maintenance


reduction of pollution discharges into streams through: · capital projects (ex: stream restoration)

· operations (ex: street-sweeping)


investing in resources and infrastructure

dam operation and maintenance floodplain management


stream buffer protection groundwater management

drainage infrastructure maintenance watershed planning and restoration

(italicized = programs not fully implemented at the present) VSMP – Virginia Stormwater Management Program TMDL – Total Maximum Daily Load

MS4 – Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System DS/FM – Dam Safety and Floodplain Management Estimated Program Cost

  • •The intent of the stormwater utility is to cover all costs associated with water resource programs. The utility fee must be set so that the total revenue of the utility covers the total cost of the programs. These costs are not fully known and must be estimated. Challenges to this effort include: current programs are carried out by multiple departments under different budgets

  • •there is great uncertainty as to the extent of future state mandates

  • •for developing programs – such as drainage infrastructure maintenance – the extent of service has not yet been determined and the level of required investment is not fully known

The recommendations of the former Committee led to the development of the following 10-year program plan cost estimate. As shown, the scale of these programs is anticipated to grow over the 10-year period. The program is currently supported by a 0.7-cent earmark on the real property tax rate established in fiscal year 2015. In fiscal year 2018, this earmark equaled $1.4M. In addition, the general fund supports a portion of existing operating costs, primarily staff salaries.

As shown, the gap between what would be supported by these two sources and the estimated future costs of the anticipated program is expected to grow considerably. The approximate proportions of costs to implement the water resources program by program area are depicted in the following pie chart: