Tacoma's surface water rates are based on the actual cost to build, maintain and operate the Surface Water Management System, including storm drains and pipes, flood control projects, water quality testing and improvements, billing systems and other projects required to meet state regulations. This adds up to about $40 million per year.
The proportion you pay depends on which of the five development categories your property falls into:
- Undeveloped (undeveloped land that soaks up much of the rainfall)
- Light development (land with very limited impervious surface)
- Moderate development (single-family homes with yards to soak up some of the runoff)
- Heavy development (most commercial property with parking and some vegetation)
- Very heavy development (industrial with mostly impervious surface and lots of runoff)
The more surface water that drains off your property, as determined by your development category, the higher your rate will be. Your bill also takes into account the size of your property. The bigger your property, the higher your bill will be. In addition, property that abuts Puget Sound is charged at a lower rate.
Surface Water Rates Effective January 1, 2017
- A fixed charge of $7.17, plus,
- An area charge per 500 square feet, depending on development type and whether your property is on the waterfront.
Rates for development categories (standard parcels) are:
|Undeveloped area – one acre or less
|Undeveloped area in excess of one acre
Very heavy development
Single-family residences fall in the moderate development category. The monthly surface water bill for a typical single-family lot (7,000 square feet) is $23.28 per month in 2017.
Waterfront and Direct Discharge Parcels
Waterfront/direct discharge parcels are those abutting Puget Sound with at least 50 feet of frontage or discharging all or most of their surface water directly into the Puget Sound. These properties have different rates. Call Billing and Technical Services at (253) 502-2100 for information.
What Do the Rates Pay For?
- Protection of Commencement Bay, Puget Sound and their tributaries from polluted runoff
- Operation and maintenance of stormwater structures, including 500 miles of pipe, 22,000-plus catch basins (storm drains), four pump stations and numerous detention ponds/structures protecting the area from flooding
- Innovative stormwater treatment systems
- Stormwater system inspections and monitoring
- Habitat restoration in wetlands, tidelands and uplands
For more information about surface water rates, call Billing and Technical Services at (253) 502-2100.
Ways to Lower Your Surface Water Bill
A property that uses and maintains low-impact development that conforms to the standards in the City’s Storm Water Management Manual, and are permitted and approved by the City, can qualify for a one-category rate reduction. For more information about this program call Site Development at (253) 591-5218.
Residents who qualify as low-income seniors or low-income disabled may be eligible for a rate reduction. If you think you might qualify, call Customer Solutions (253) 502-8400 to find out how to apply. Help for other customers is also available from the utilities and local organizations. You'll find details on bill-paying assistance on the Tacoma Public Utilities website.
If you believe your property has been damaged by a City sewer or storm drain backup, call our 24-hour spills hotline right away at (253) 502-2222. The law allows you three years to file a claim for damages, but we can't pay unless we can investigate and document the damage, so it's better to call sooner rather than later. City staff will come out to inspect the property, document any damage and let you know if the damage is eligible for a claim. City staff will then walk you through the claim filing process.
For all other claims involving injuries or vehicle or property damage, visit the City's Customer Support Center's web page or call 311 within Tacoma city limits or (253) 591-5000 outside city limits.