The surface water utility charges are annual service charges to property owners for storm and surface water management services. Surface Water Management (SWM) is a utility that provides essential services in unincorporated Snohomish County. These services are funded by annual SWM utility charges paid by property owners in unincorporated Snohomish County. SWM partners with the community to reduce flood damage and to protect and enhance our water resources for future generations by providing customers with services in four core areas:
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Surface Water Management utility charges were originally adopted for south county watersheds in 1987 and expanded to other watersheds in unincorporated areas in subsequent years. Since that time, Snohomish County surface water utility charges have remained among the lowest in the region. In 2002, the County Council recognized the need for a detailed inventory and assessment of drainage needs throughout the county's unincorporated urban growth areas. To address a portion of these needs, the county council approved a utility charge increase for properties located in the urban growth areas. In 2008, Snohomish County completed a rate study that identified the level of additional funding that is needed to meet the new requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit beginning in 2009. To meet these new funding requirements, the County Council amended county code to increase surface water utility charges for 2009.
Most owners of developed properties located in unincorporated Snohomish pay the utility charge. Property owners help pay for solutions because each property contributes runoff to local ditches, streams, or groundwater, and SWM is responsible for managing many of the downstream surface water systems. The utility charges are based on the contribution of each property to downstream runoff, not the potential benefit to the property.
Some types of properties that pay utility charges are:
The single-family home annual utility charge is $122. Owners of single-family residences pay a flat utility charge, whereas owners of apartments, businesses, and commercial structures are charged a rate per quarter acre according to the percentage of impervious surfaces* on their properties. For a complete list of rate categories and charges, see Snohomish County Code 25.20.020. * Impervious surfaces are hard surfaced areas that prevent or retard the entry of water into the soil, or cause water to run off faster than under natural conditions. Common impervious surfaces include rooftops, sidewalks, pavement, patios, driveways, parking lots, gravel, and other surfaces that impede the natural infiltration or runoff of surface water.
If you have a piece of commercial property with a detention facility that meets the requirements of the County's Drainage Code (see Chapter 30.63A of the Snohomish County Code) and it is properly maintained, you may qualify for a rate reduction. Call us at 425-388-6474 (or toll free at 800-562-4367 ext. 6474) for a request form and to schedule an inspection of the property. For additional information regarding credits and exemptions, refer to the Snohomish County Code 25.20.070-25.20.080 of the Snohomish County Code. If you believe your utility charge was miscalculated (rate category, amount of impervious surface, land use classification, or acreage), a refund may be due. Applications for billing error refunds must be made within three years of the date of payment and refunds may be retroactive up to three prior years.
You may contact Snohomish County Surface Water Management for information on utility charges. Refunds and appeals require an appeal form be submitted by April 30. Once you have submitted an appeal form, an inspection of the property may be required. Forms and inquiries should be directed to Snohomish County Surface Water. Please call 425-388-6474 or 800-562-4367 ext. 6474 with questions. You may also mail inquiries and forms to: Utility Billing Surface Water Management 3000 Rockefeller Avenue M/S 607 Everett, WA 98201- 4046 Note: Filing a Request for Review will not extend the payment due date.