The City manages stormwater within Spruce Grove by planning and controlling runoff from rain and melted snow through a stormwater network. This network includes roadways, ditches, storm sewers, storm sewer manholes, catch basins, stormwater management ponds and other facilities.
At this time, the amount of stormwater runoff in Spruce Grove is increasing due to population growth, higher density neighbourhoods will less green space and weather fluctuations that cause heavy rains or rapidly melting snow.
As a result, the City estimates $37 million in planned capital projects is required over the next 10 years to keep the system in good working order and avoid costly repairs. A stormwater utility fee has been proposed as a fair and equitable way to fund the system both now and in the future.
Third reading of the proposed stormwater utility fee will be considered by Spruce Grove City Council on March 23, 2020. If approved, the fee is expected to appear on your May 2020 utility bill (applicable to the month of April).
Background and timeline:
- November 2018: Stormwater utility introduced as a funding model for stormwater management in the 2019–2021 Corporate Plan
- Feb. 18, 2020: Report on Stormwater Management presented at Committee of the Whole
- Feb. 24, 2020: First reading of Utility Bylaw Amendment
- March 9, 2020: Non-statutory public hearing and second reading of the Utility Bylaw Amendment
- March 23, 2020: Third reading of the Utility Bylaw Amendment
- May 2020: Proposed fee appears on utility bill, applicable to the month of April
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Stormwater Utility Fee FAQs
Stormwater maintenance and repair costs are included in your property taxes, based on the value of your home. It is weighed against other City services, such as parks, roads and social services. Approximately 3.75 per cent of the annual tax levy has been used to support the City’s stormwater services. If the proposed utility fee is approved, property tax revenues previously allocated to stormwater services would be made available to fund other City services.
Compared to property taxes, a stormwater utility fee is a fair and equitable approach because rates would be based on the amount of stormwater runoff parcels of land generally generate, rather than property value. It would also provide dedicated funding for stormwater services.
All properties with a utility account would contribute, including properties that create significant demands on the system but were not financially contributing to stormwater management under the general property tax system. These properties, for example, include non-profit and institutional facilities.
No, property taxes will not be reduced if the stormwater utility fee comes into effect. This is because the portion of property taxes previously used to fund stormwater management projects has been relatively nominal; moving to a user fee model will have only minor impacts on the way that the City uses property taxes to support other services, such as parks, roads and social services.
Through the utility billing system. All properties within City limits that are billed for water and sewer services would pay a fee based on meter size. While not perfect, meter size would be used to determine stormwater impacts. The fee would be added to the monthly water and sewer bills as a separate line item. All property owners would be charged a stormwater utility fee. In tenancy situations, a separate bill would be generated and sent to the property owner.
The stormwater utility fee would be billed monthly. It would first appear on your May 2020 utility bill, applicable to the month of April.
Yes. The City would charge different rates to small customers and large customers as determined by the size of the water meter servicing the property. Customers with meters under 1 inch, typically residential, would pay a lower rate than customers with meters 1 inch or larger, typically non-residential or commercial.
Each year, rates would be reviewed and adjusted as part of the corporate planning process to ensure they adequately cover costs and meet the needs of the City.
A stormwater utility fee would help address our three major challenges: flood protection, environmental protection and stormwater infrastructure.
Severe weather events that used to happen every forty years now happen every six and so there is more stormwater runoff than ever before. As a consequence, damage from storm events has recently become the biggest cause for insurance claims in Canada. The stormwater utility fee would help us adapt and protect homes/businesses in Spruce Grove from severe weather events.
As water runs off properties, it can carry contaminants with it that could potentially end up in creeks, streams and rivers, upsetting the ecosystem and degrading the quality of water. A well maintained and properly functioning stormwater network will prevent pollutants from reaching these watercourses and protect our source water.
The City currently operates over 50 stormwater management facilities, 129 kilometres of pipe and 2,160 catch basins that are maintained and replaced as they age. The stormwater utility fee would provide a funding source that is reliable, predictable and fair to ensure the service can continue to be effectively run in the future.
The stormwater utility model is quickly becoming best practice in many Canadian municipalities. Within the region, for example, St. Albert, Leduc, Stony Plain, Edmonton and Devon all fund stormwater services through a user fee model.
Stormwater Network FAQs
Stormwater is rain and melted snow that flows over the ground surface. In undeveloped natural areas, stormwater is absorbed by plants and soil, or finds its way back to ponds and streams. Hard surfaces in urban areas prevent stormwater from soaking into the ground naturally and creates runoff from lawns, roof tops, sidewalks and paved surfaces.
A stormwater system protects water quality and reduces the risk of flooding that could damage your property and the environment. During rain or snow melt in a natural or more rural environment, approximately 90 per cent of the runoff will evaporate back into the atmosphere or be absorbed into the ground; only 10 per cent will remain on the surface as stormwater.
In an urban environment, like Spruce Grove, where there are harder surfaces such as parking lots, driveways, roads and buildings, the amount of water runoff increases to 55 per cent. Therefore, it’s critical for municipalities like the City of Spruce Grove to have a robust stormwater system.
The City manages stormwater within Spruce Grove by planning for and controlling runoff from rain and melted snow through a stormwater network. This network includes roadways, ditches, storm sewers, storm sewer manholes, catch basins, stormwater management ponds and other facilities.
Managing the stormwater network involves:
- Testing the quality of stormwater before it enters streams and creeks;
- Inspecting stormwater outlets to ensure there are no blockages to water flow;
- Maintaining and repairing over 100 kilometres of pipe that make up the public drainage system to prevent backups and counteract the impact of spills;
- Finding solutions for cleaning stormwater ponds in the city; and
- Street sweeping to remove debris before it reaches streams.
A variety of regulatory agencies, such as Alberta Environment, Parks and Fisheries, and Oceans Canada hold the City accountable for how it manages stormwater.
To keep our system in good working order. Currently, the City’s stormwater infrastructure includes more than 50 stormwater management facilities, 129 kilometres of pipe and 2,160 catch basins. The total value of our stormwater network is roughly $79 million, however planned capital work required to support the network, and keep it in good working order, is estimated at $37 million over the next ten years.