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City of Philadelphia

Non-Residential Stormwater Billing

Non Residential Stormwater Charge

For non-residential customers, the cost to manage stormwater is based on the specific square footage of impervious area covering the property and the total square footage of the property.

Stormwater Credits SMP Inspection Forms

The following files are .pdf's with fillable forms. If you have a problem with the direct links below, right mouse click and select, "Download Target As" or "Save Link As" and then open the file in Adobe Reader.

Ponds & Wetlands
Porous Surface
Surface Basin
Subsurface Basin
Water Quality Devices & Filters

Did you know?

Property owners can reduce their stormwater management fee by installing stormwater management controls. Read more in our Credits and Appeals Manual

Stormwater Credits Explorer and Stormwater Parcel Viewer

The Credits Explorer allows users to install virtual stormwater management practices to reduce stormwater fees on Non-residential properties.

The Parcel Viewer lets users explore parcels on an interactive map, including high resolution ortho-photography, transparent overlays of impervious surfaces, and tools to make approximate measurements of length and area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is stormwater runoff?

Stormwater runoff is water that flows over our yards, streets, buildings, parking lots, swimming pools and all other surfaces when it rains.

What are the impacts of stormwater runoff?

Stormwater adversely impacts the quality of our surface waters, as it carries with it various pollutants, sediments, and other debris from the surfaces over which it runs off. Stormwater also creates quantity problems which results in flooding, stream bank erosion, combined sewer overflows (CSO), basement flooding, and sewer backups.

How is stormwater runoff managed?

Stormwater runoff either flows directly into the nearest water bodies such as our local streams, ponds, rivers, and oceans, or is captured and is conveyed through the City‟s sewer pipes to the City‟s wastewater treatment facilities. Examples of stormwater management services include maintaining stormwater pipes and inlets, combined sewer pipe rehabilitation to abate flooding conditions, stream restoration, CSO management to reduce combined sewer overflows, and reducing pollution loading to the City‟s streams and waterways.

What activities does my stormwater bill fund?

PWD uses revenue generated from stormwater billing to fund a variety of activities including maintenance of the City‟s network of pipes and inlets that convey stormwater and implementing stormwater management and stream restoration projects to reduce combined sewer overflows and pollutant loading to the City‟s streams and waterways.

What constitutes a non-residential property?

Non-residential properties are those that cannot be classified as residential or condominium. Non-residential properties typically include commercial and industrial uses and residential properties with more than four dwelling units.

What is a Stormwater Management Service (SWMS) charge?

A SWMS charge is assessed to recover the costs the City incurs in providing stormwater management services to create a healthy living environment and to comply with State and Federal regulations. The City‟s annual stormwater management costs exceed $110 Million.

Is the SWMS charge a “Tax?”

No, the SWMS charge is not a tax. The SWMS charge is a utility user fee similar to the water utility charge.

What is the basis of my SWMS charge? Is my SWMS charge based on my water consumption?

The SWMS charge is not based on your monthly water consumption. The SWMS charge is based on two parameters: the Gross Area square footage and Impervious Area square footage determined for your property.

What is a Gross Area (GA)?

Gross Area refers to all of the property area contained within the legally described boundaries of a property and does not include portions of sidewalk that are in the public Right-of-Way. In other words, GA refers to the total lot size of a property.

What is Impervious Area (IA)?

Impervious Area refers to the total square footage of any surfaces on the property which are compacted or covered with material that restricts the infiltration of water, including semi-pervious surfaces such as compacted clay, most conventionally hard-scaped surfaces such as streets, driveways, roofs, sidewalks, parking lots, attached and detached structures, and other similar surfaces.

Is the parcel based SWMS charge a new fee used to increase utility revenues?

No, the SWMS charge is not new, and it does not increase utility revenues. The City‟s sewer customers have always paid the SWMS charge as part of their monthly sewer charges. The SWMS charge was previously included in the „Service Charge‟ portion of your bill. As of July 1, 2010, the method of SWMS charge calculation changed from a meter size-based charge to a parcel area based-charge. Additionally, the SWMS charge is presented as a separate line item in your Water/Sewer/Stormwater Bill.

Why did PWD change the method of SWMS charge assessment?

Historically, PWD assessed SWMS charges based on the size of the water meter(s) located in a property. However, such an approach creates inequity as (i) the size of the water meter bears limited relationship to the volume of stormwater runoff from a property and; (ii) properties such as vacant lots or parking lots without any water meter did not contribute to stormwater cost recovery.
The parcel area based-charge provides a more equitable mechanism for assessing the SWMS charge, which is based on the square footage of Gross Area and Impervious Area. Properties with larger lot size and larger impervious areas will generate more stormwater than properties with a smaller lot size and smaller impervious areas. Therefore, the parcel area-based approach establishes a reasonable relationship between the stormwater burden imposed by a property and the calculated SWMS charge.

How is the SWMS charge determined for my property?

The SWMS charge includes two components: a Gross Area charge and an Impervious Area charge. The sum of the two charges is your property‟s SWMS charge. The City has established a stormwater rate schedule with a GA and IA Rate per 500 square feet. Please see Appendix A for additional details concerning SWMS charge calculations

How is the Impervious Area determined for my property?

If your lot size is 5,000 square feet or greater, the IA is determined through the City‟s Geographic Information System (GIS) software and aerial images of the property. If your property is less than 5,000 square feet and undeveloped, then the impervious area is estimated as 25% of the total area. If your property is less than 5,000 square feet and developed, then the impervious area is estimated as 85% of the total area of your property.

Why is PWD rounding up when calculating the units of impervious area and gross area?

Per PWD Regulations, Section 304.3, the GA Factor and IA Factor are determined by dividing the GA and IA of a property by 500, and then rounding up to the next whole unit. Please see Appendix A for example SWMS charge calculations. Since it is not feasible to determine Impervious Area with exact precision, the rounding up approach neutralizes any minor measurement variances among parcels.

How is the SWMS charge billed for my property?

If your property has water/sewer accounts, then the SWMS charge is listed as a separate line item in your monthly bill. However, if your property does not have water/sewer service, then you will receive a water bill listing only a SWMS charge.

How is the SWMS charge calculated if I have multiple water accounts on my property?

The monthly SWMS charge is first calculated for your property based on the total GA and IA. This monthly SWMS charge is equally apportioned among all the water accounts that exist on the property. If the computed monthly SWMS charge for each account is less than the Minimum Charge, then the Minimum Charge will be applied to each account. For example, if your property has four water/sewer accounts, then each water/sewer account will be assigned 25% of the total monthly SWMS charge. If that value is less than the Minimum Charge, then the minimum will apply.

If there are multiple water accounts on my property, can I request a specific allocation of SWMS charges among the water accounts?

Yes, if you would like a custom allocation of the SWMS charge among the accounts located on your property, you can request a specific distribution by filing FORM A-1 “Revised Charge Allocation” Application. However, the sum of the SWMS charge distributions should equal the total SWMS charge determined for that property. Please refer to the SWMS Charge Credits and Adjustment Appeals Manual for details.

Is there any minimum SWMS charge for a non-residential property?

Yes, please see PWD Regulations Section 304 for more information concerning the minimum charge.