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The surface water utility charges are annual service charges to property owners for storm and surface water management services. Snohomish County's stormwater utility, Surface Water Management (SWM), provides essential services that keep people, property and roads safe, while protecting the health of local rivers, lakes, streams and Puget Sound. Some of SWM's key services include maintaining drainage systems, reducing road and property flooding, monitoring and solving water quality problems, and coordinating regional salmon recovery.
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. All owners of developed property must pay for solutions because each piece of property contributes to some form of runoff and pollution to ditches, streams, or groundwater. The utility charges are based on the contribution of each property to the problem, 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 in Urban Growth Areas and $90.00 in all other areas. 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.