Stormwater Utility Enterprise Fund
The Town of Wellesley has adopted a Stormwater Utility Enterprise Fund similar to Wellesley’s existing water, sewer, and electric utilities, to more equitably distribute the necessary expenses that are required to meet increasing demands associated with the Town’s stormwater management program. Wellesley is facing federal requirements to reduce the amount of pollution from stormwater runoff discharging to waterways, including substantial phosphorous reduction requirements of runoff into the Charles River. Consequently, the Town must increase investment in stormwater infrastructure management to meet permit obligations.
The purpose of the federal requirements is to reduce the amount of pollution from stormwater runoff discharging into waterways. Wellesley is in the Charles River Watershed and is required to substantially reduce phosphorous runoff into the Charles River. As a result, the Town must increase its investment in stormwater infrastructure management to meet these requirements.
Previously these investments were funded through taxes. Starting in FY25, under the Stormwater Utility Enterprise Fund, a fee will be applied to all non-municipal properties including those owned by tax-exempt, non-profit and state agencies. The stormwater fee is based on the amount of impervious surface on each property. Impervious surfaces are any hard material that prevent stormwater from infiltrating into the ground and include parking lots, driveways, and buildings.
Advantages of a Stormwater Utility Fee include:
- Sustainable – dedicated, stable revenue source
- Equitable – distributed to all non-municipal property owners and based on stormwater impact vs. property value
- Flexible – Enterprise will fund all aspects of the stormwater management program
- Credit policy – Part of the stormwater utility development can include a credit policy. This credit policy can create a financial incentive for stormwater improvements on private property.
The fees collected will be used to comply with permit requirements, maintain and replace drainage infrastructure for flood prevention, and to protect waterbodies from harmful stormwater pollutants. The proposed Stormwater Utility Enterprise Fund will also provide credits and rebates as incentives for efforts that help improve the quality of runoff into our waterways.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers an enterprise fund to be a best practice to promote and maintain long-term financial sustainability for stormwater activities. For Wellesley, we believe that a Stormwater Utility Enterprise Fund is a practical and more equitable way to fund and distribute the costs of this important program.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
As we conducted our outreach, several questions were commonly asked by Town Officials and property owners. The answers to these questions are available at the following link Frequently Asked Questions. For a printable version, click here.
The first year of the Stormwater Utility Enterprise Fund (FY2024) is funded through Tax appropriations and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant funds. Residents and land-owners should begin to see the stormwater fee as part of their monthly utility billing starting in July 2024.
Below is a sample fee schedule that was developed for the 2023 Annual Meeting. The DPW is currently reviewing the 2025 fiscal year budget and anticipates that the fee schedule may be adjusted as a result. The final schedule will be adopted by the Board of Public Works during the spring of 2024.
Credits & Abatements
The Stormwater Utility Enterprise Fund will provide credits as incentives for efforts that help improve the quality of runoff into our waterways. Specifically, implementation and long-term maintenance of stormwater best management practices (BMPs).
A draft credit schedule is in development. Our goal in implementing the credit schedule is to provide fair and equitable benefits to all users while still balancing the needs of maintaining the drainage system and complying with federal and state regulatory requirements. The draft credit schedule is expected to be available for comment starting in December 2023.
Following a public outreach period, the credit policy will be finalized, and applications will become open to the public for the 2025 fiscal year.
Stormwater Property Viewer
The Wellesley DPW has created a property viewer for the public to find out Stormwater Utility Fee information for addresses in Wellesley. Click the image below to open and search for your address.
Presentations & Outreach
- 11/09/2021 - Board of Public Works presentation video: link here
- 11/09/2021 - Board of Public Works presentation slides: link here
- 12/08/2021 - Advisory Committee presentation video: link here
- 12/09/2021 - Planning Board presentation video: link here
- 12/20/2021 - Select Board presentation video: link here
- 01/11/2022 - Board of Public Works Discussion video: link here
- 01/14/2022 - Climate Action Committee presentation video: link here
- 02/08/2022 - Board of Public Works Discussion: link here
- 03/03/2022 - Natural Resources Commission presentation video: link here
- 07/12/2022 - Board of Public Works Discussion video: link here
- 08/23/2022 - Stakeholder Outreach Series - Educational Institutions Virtual Meeting
- 09/20/2022 - Stakeholder Outreach Series - Landowners Virtual Meeting
- 09/27/2022 - Select Board Update video: link here
- 11/02/2022 - Stakeholder Outreach Series - Town Department Heads - Internal Meeting
- 11/15/2022 - Board of Public Works Discussion video: link here
- 12/13/2022 - Board of Public Works Discussion video: link here
- 12/20/2022 - Select Board Update video: link here
- 01/18/2023 - Advisory Committee Meeting video: link here
- 04/11/2023 - 2023 Spring Town Meeting: link here
Additional Information and Examples
Stormwater Utilities Throughout New England
Communities throughout New England have developed Stormwater Utilities to fund stormwater management goals and/or MS4 Permit Requirements. The graphic below demonstrates Stormwater Utilities adopted in the Northeast as of 2023.
Links to Stormwater Utilities in nearby Massachusetts communities are also provided below:
- Newton, MA Stormwater Utility Website
- Bellingham, MA Stormwater Utility Website
- Westford, MA Stormwater Utility Website
- Milton, MA Stormwater Utility Website
- Dedham, MA Stormwater Utility Website