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Why is a storm water fee being assessed to community members now?

Is Carmel the only Indiana city to assess a storm water fee?

How were fee amounts identified?

Can residential properties opt out of this fee?

What can I do if I am a non-residential property owner and believe my fee is incorrect?

How will the collected storm water fees be used?

What is storm water runoff?

Why does storm water runoff need to be managed and why am I paying a fee?

I already receive a sanitary sewer fee from Carmel Utilities, how is this different?

Does every property owner have to pay the storm water utility fee?

Is the Department of Storm Water Management part of the Utility Department?

What services will I receive as a result of the storm water utility?

I pay a drainage fee to Hamilton County.  Do I have to pay the City fee as well?

Why do I have to pay a storm water fee on a property that contains no impervious (hard) surface?

I have a single family residence, yet I am being charged more than the residential rate.  Why is this?

I live in an apartment.  How will I be billed?

What are the federally and state mandated storm water program requirements for the City of Carmel?

Is the City of Carmel the only community that has to face these storm water management requirements?

What would happen if the City refused to comply with this municipal storm water permit?

How does the Carmel Storm Water Utility Fee compare with other utility fees?

When and how will I receive my bill for the storm water fee?

What will happen if I don’t pay the storm water fee for my property?

Do property owners in Homeplace have to pay this fee?

Why does my new storm water utility bill show a past charge of $8.82 on my bill that has been paid?

Why was I never notified about this fee?

I am a property owner and I did not see the new fee on my most recent utility bill.  Will I still pay this fee?

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Why is a storm water fee being assessed to community members now?
Since the 1970s, Carmel’s storm water system has been completely separate from the sanitary sewer system. Carmel currently has more than 600 miles of aging storm water piping and more than 20,000 drainage structures that have escalating costs to maintain. Additionally, the regulations in the Federal Clean Water Act increase as years progress and, with that, so does the cost to adhere to those growing requirements.


Is Carmel the only Indiana city to assess a storm water fee?
In Indiana, 80 other communities, including Fishers, Westfield, Plainfield, Greenwood and Brownsburg, are already charging a storm water fee.

How were fee amounts identified?
A study completed in 2013 suggested two fee structures. Residential properties pay a flat monthly fee and all other properties, including apartment complexes, have an equitable fee based on their amount of impervious surface (roads, buildings, driveways and parking lots). The full study is available at www.carmelstormwater.com.

Can residential properties opt out of this fee?
All residential properties are assessed the same fee and cannot opt out.

What can I do if I am a non-residential property owner and believe my fee is incorrect?
Please contact the Department of Storm Water Management at (317) 819-7301.

How will the collected storm water fees be used?
Fees collected will be used to maintain existing city storm water programs, existing storm sewer maintenance and new storm sewer construction. Fees will also fund the planning and implementation of projects to improve localized drainage problems throughout the City.

What is storm water runoff?
Storm water runoff is natural precipitation, such as rain water, snow melt, or surface drainage that cannot infiltrate into the ground and consequently runs off to the nearest conveyance (storm pipes, swales) and into our streams, rivers, and lakes.  For more information, visit the Storm Water Program page.

Why does storm water runoff need to be managed and why am I paying a fee?
Rapid growth and urbanization of the City’s landscape causes significant changes in storm water runoff and in the streams and rivers that drain it away from our properties.  As land is developed and hard surfaces, such as pavement and roofs replace fields and forests, a much larger volume of storm water runoff is generated during precipitation events.  This additional runoff degrades waterways and picks up and transports pollutants that are on the ground.  According to the EPA, storm water runoff is the leading source of water pollution to nearly 40% of all water bodies in the U.S.  A vast series of aging pipes, storm inlets, and street gutters convey this water during an event and must be maintained.  The City must also comply with a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management that requires Carmel to prevent pollution from entering our storm system and ultimately, Waters of the State and U.S.   There are significant costs and significant benefits to properly funding the City’s storm water program and this fee will help ensure that the system is well maintained for generations to come.  

I already receive a sanitary sewer fee from Carmel Utilities, how is this different?
The sanitary sewer fee funds the maintenance of the city’s sanitary system, which drains and treats the water from the internal plumbing in your home before discharging it to the White River.  The storm sewer system is completely separate from the sanitary system and is made up of over 600 miles of storm pipe and over 20,000 drainage structures.  It is designed to carry storm water runoff to the nearest water body.

Does every property owner have to pay the storm water utility fee?
Yes.  All properties in the City of Carmel are assessed a storm water utility fee.  

Is the Department of Storm Water Management part of the Utility Department?  
No.  The Department of Storm Water Management is not a part of the Utility Department.  However, to reduce administrative costs, the Department of Storm Water Management relies on the Utility Department’s existing billing system.  If you have questions about your bill, please contact the Department at 317-819-7301 or email stormwater@carmel.in.gov.

What services will I receive as a result of the storm water utility?
Fees collected will be utilized to maintain existing city storm water programs, existing storm sewer maintenance, and new storm sewer construction. Fees will also fund the planning and implementation of projects to improve localized drainage problems throughout the City.

I pay a drainage fee to Hamilton County.  Do I have to pay the City fee as well?
Yes.  City properties that currently pay a ditch or other assessment to Hamilton County will continue to pay those assessments.  The Hamilton County Surveyors office is responsible for maintenance of County Regulated Drains, even within the City.  Revenues from Ditch Assessments are paid solely to the County are only for the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of a subset of drainage ways that are designated as a regulated drain.   
Revenues from the Carmel Storm Water Utility Fee will be solely for the management and maintenance of City owned and operated storm water facilities, infrastructure, and programs. There are over 600 miles of storm pipe and 20,000 drainage structures in Carmel.  The City is also responsible to implement a City wide storm water program to reduce the amount of pollutants entering our waterways. Additionally, the city will utilize funds to study and address localized drainage problems.

Why do I have to pay a storm water fee on a property that contains no impervious (hard) surface?
A vast series of pipes, storm inlets, and curbs make up a majority of the public storm sewer system in Carmel. The installation and maintenance of this storm system benefits all properties by preventing flooding during typical rain events and allows residents to safely traverse our public road system. These properties also contribute some level of pollution to our local water bodies. Additionally, the fee will contribute to local efforts for public education and outreach, public participation and involvement, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site runoff control, and good housekeeping for municipal operations.

I have a single family residence, yet I am being charged more than $4.95.  Why is this?
If you have received a bill for more than the residential rate, you may be being billed for two properties. If you own two properties, your fee will be the sum of the fee for each property based on the rate table in the Storm Water Utility Rate Chart on the Storm Water Fee page.

I live in an apartment.  How will I be billed?
Apartment complexes are considered non-residential, so the fee for the overall complex will vary based on the non-residential fee calculation. The fee will be added to the main complex utility billing account. Contact your apartment complex to determine how this fee will be applied to renters.  

What are the federally and state mandated storm water program requirements for the City of Carmel?

In the State of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is responsible for the development and oversight of the Clean Water Act municipal storm water permitting program.  The IDEM initiated adoption of rules that were ultimately codified as 327 IAC 15-13 (Rule 13).  Rule 13 became effective on August 6, 2003. It requires designated entities such as the City of Carmel to obtain permits that require the implementation of several storm water management program activities.  No federal or state monies are available to implement the Rule 13 permit programs.
Rule 13 requires the City to implement the following six minimum storm water control measures to minimize the amount of pollutants entering our storm water runoff, which typically drains untreated, to the nearest waterway;

  1. Public Education and Outreach
  2. Public Participation and Involvement
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  4. Construction Site Runoff Control
  5. Post-Construction Site Runoff Control
  6. Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations

Is the City of Carmel the only community that has to face these storm water management requirements?
No, this Federal requirement affects “small” municipalities and cities nationwide, generally those communities with a population between 10,000 and 100,000. In Indiana, small storm water permits have been issued to over 170 mandatory and discretionary communities. The lists can be found with this web link: http://www.in.gov/idem/5437.htm.
Many cities and towns nationwide, and over 80 in Indiana alone, have had Storm Water Utilities in place for many years.  Cities and towns are turning to Utilities to provide stable and equitable funding to implement storm water management activities, whether or not they are affected by the unfunded Federal mandate.  

What would happen if the City refused to comply with this municipal storm water permit?
The Federal government requires this permit under the authority of the Clean Water Act. There are substantial monetary and non-monetary penalties for non-compliance from the federal and state levels.  

How does the Carmel Storm Water Utility Fee compare with other utility fees?
The elected city of Carmel officials are mindful of the impact any fee has on its residents and property owners. To ensure that the fees charged are not excessive, yet will meet the costs associated with storm water regulation compliance, a utility rate study was completed in 2013.

Single Family Residence Storm Water Rate Comparisons with communities in the Indianapolis area:

City / Monthly Fee
Fishers / $4.95
Greenwood / $5.00
Carmel / $5.10
Muncie / $6.00
Whiteland / $7.50

When and how will I receive my bill for the storm water fee?
Effective November 2014, all property owners within the City limits will receive a storm water utility charge on their Carmel Utility bill.   For property owners who currently do not receive a Carmel Utility bill, a bill will be generated for them. While the Department of Storm Water Management is not part of the Water/Wastewater Utility, it will take advantage of the existing Carmel Utility billing system to help save administrative costs.

What will happen if I don’t pay the storm water fee for my property?
Late payments will result in the assessment of a 10% late charge and any costs associate with the collection of the payment, including reasonable attorney’s fees. Pursuant to City Code Section 9-231, the City reserves the right to shut off other City services, such as water distribution, to the property.

Do property owners in Homeplace have to pay this fee? 
No. The fee only applies to properties within the City limits.

Why does my new storm water utility bill show a past charge of $8.82 on my bill that has been paid?
To save room in the utility billing database, some accounts that were created but never used for the trash fee were repurposed for the storm water fee. Please disregard this past charge.

Why was I never notified about this fee?
The proposed storm water management ordinance was first introduced at City Council Meetings in September of 2013.  A public hearing on the ordinance was advertised and held in October of 2013.  The ordinance was discussed in various council subcommittees until it’s adoption by  the City Council in July of 2014.  The ordinance includes a fee start date of November 2014.   Additionally, the assessment of the new fee was announced in a press release on October 9th, 2014.  

I am a property owner and I did not see the new fee on my most recent utility bill.  Will I still pay this fee?
Yes, all property owners in Carmel will pay the storm water fee.  If a storm water fee did not appear on your existing or new Carmel Utility bill, it should be reflected on an upcoming bill.  Your billing will commence with the first month you receive the storm water fee on your bill. 

Last updated: 3/22/2016 6:56:43 PM