Athens-Clarke County has enacted a Stormwater Management Ordinance in order to protect, maintain and enhance the public health, safety, environment and general welfare by establishing minimum requirements and procedures to control the adverse effects of increased post-development stormwater runoff and nonpoint source pollution associated with new development and redevelopment. Athens-Clarke County is the permitting authority for all land disturbing activities and requires the land owner to maintain all on-site stormwater control facilities and all open space areas (e.g. parks or “green” areas) required by the approved stormwater control plan. Athens-Clarke County will only provide construction permits to projects that establish a plan to manage stormwater runoff occurring during the construction process. Stormwater Utility Fees will be calculated and collected by Athens-Clarke County. These fees are based on the amount of impervious surface on the property. Athens-Clarke County, under the NPDES program, also has the authority to inspect properties for noncompliance and can issue a notice of violation (NOV) for any deficiency or infraction onsite. Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of any stormwater facilities or practices located on the property.
Stormwater Management Ordinance
Stormwater management inspection and maintenance agreements. Prior to the issuance of any permit for a land development activity requiring a stormwater management facility or practice hereunder and for which the Department requires ongoing maintenance, the applicant or owner of the site must, unless an on-site stormwater management facility or practice is dedicated to and accepted by the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, execute an inspection and maintenance agreement, if applicable, that shall be binding on all subsequent owners of the site.
The inspection and maintenance agreement, if applicable, must be approved by the Department prior to plan approval, and recorded in the deed records upon final plat approval.
The inspection and maintenance agreement shall identify by name or official title the person(s) responsible for carrying out the inspection and maintenance. Responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the stormwater management facility or practice, unless assumed by a governmental agency, shall remain with the property owner and shall pass to any successor owner. If portions of the land are sold or otherwise transferred, legally binding arrangements shall be made to pass the inspection and maintenance responsibility to the appropriate successors in title. These arrangements shall designate, for each portion of the site, the person to be permanently responsible for its inspection and maintenance.
As part of the inspection and maintenance agreement, a schedule shall be developed for when and how often routine inspection and maintenance will occur to ensure proper function of the stormwater management facility or practice. The agreement shall also include plans for annual inspections to ensure proper performance of the facility between scheduled maintenance and shall also include remedies for the default thereof. Copies of routine inspection summaries will be submitted in accordance with approved maintenance plan.
In addition to enforcing the terms of the inspection and maintenance agreement, the Department may also enforce all of the provisions for ongoing inspection and maintenance in section 5-4-9 of this chapter.
The Mayor and Commission of Athens-Clarke County, in lieu of an inspection and maintenance agreement, may consider dedication to the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County of any existing or future stormwater management facility for maintenance, upon recommendation by the Director of the Department, provided such facility meets all the requirements of this chapter and includes adequate and perpetual access and sufficient area, by easement or otherwise, for inspection and regular maintenance.
Sec. 5-4-9. Ongoing inspection and maintenance of stormwater facilities and practices.
(a) Long-term maintenance inspection of stormwater facilities and practices. Stormwater management facilities and practices included in a stormwater management plan which are subject to an inspection and maintenance agreement must undergo ongoing inspections to document maintenance and repair needs and ensure compliance with the requirements of the agreement, the plan and this chapter.
A stormwater management facility or practice shall be inspected on a periodic basis by the responsible person in accordance with the approved inspection and maintenance agreement. In the event that the stormwater management facility has not been maintained and/or becomes a danger to public safety or public health, or threatens downstream water resources, the Department shall notify the person responsible for carrying out the maintenance plan by registered or certified mail to the person specified in the inspection and maintenance agreement. The notice shall specify the measures needed to comply with the agreement and the plan and shall specify the time within which such measures shall be completed. If the responsible person fails or refuses to meet the requirements of the inspection and maintenance agreement, the Department may correct the violation as provided in subsection 5-4-9(d) hereof.
Inspection programs by the Department may be established on any reasonable basis, including but not limited to: routine inspections; random inspections; inspections based upon complaints or other notice of possible violations; and joint inspections with other agencies inspecting under environmental or safety laws. Inspections may include, but are not limited to: reviewing maintenance and repair records; sampling discharges, surface water, groundwater, and material or water in stormwater management facilities; and evaluating the condition of stormwater management facilities and practices.
(b) Right-of-entry for inspection. The terms of the inspection and maintenance agreement shall provide for the Department to enter the property at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner for the purpose of inspection. This includes the right to enter a property for general inspections or when the Department has a reasonable basis to believe that a violation of this chapter is occurring or has occurred and to enter when necessary for abatement of a public nuisance or correction of a violation of this chapter.
(c) Records of maintenance activities. Parties responsible for the operation and maintenance of a stormwater management facility shall provide records of all maintenance and repairs to the Department.
(d) Failure to maintain. If a responsible person fails or refuses to meet the requirements of the inspection and maintenance agreement, the Department, after 30 days written notice by certified mail (except, that in the event the violation constitutes an immediate danger to public health or public safety, 24 hours’ notice shall be sufficient), may correct a violation of the design standards or maintenance requirements by performing the necessary work to place the facility or practice in proper working condition. The costs of the repair work shall be billed to the owner(s) of the facility. Failure of the owner(s) to pay the costs within 30 days of receipt of the bill shall result in 1.5 percent late charge on the unpaid balance of any bill that becomes delinquent. Suits for collection shall be commenced by Athens-Clarke County in the county of the owner's residence; provided, however, if the owner is not a resident of this state, suit may be filed in the Superior Court of Athens-Clarke County.
Sec. 5-4-10. Violations, enforcement and penalties.
Any action or inaction which violates the provisions of this chapter or the requirements of an approved stormwater management plan or permit, may be subject to the enforcement actions outlined in this section. Any such action or inaction which is continuous with respect to time is deemed to be a public nuisance and may be abated by injunctive or other equitable relief. The imposition of any of the penalties described below shall not prevent such equitable relief.
(1) Notice of violation. If the applicant or other responsible person has failed to comply with the terms and conditions of a permit, an approved stormwater management plan or the provisions of this chapter, the Department shall issue a written notice of violation to such applicant or other responsible person. The violator shall have the amount of time specified in the written notice to correct the violation. If the violation is not corrected within the time specified in the written notice, the Department shall issue a stop work order requiring that all land disturbing activities on the project be stopped. Where a person is engaged in activity covered by this chapter without having first secured a stormwater permit, the Department shall issue an immediate stop work order in lieu of a written notice.
(2) Penalties. In the event the applicant or other responsible person fails to correct the violation by the date set forth in the notice of violation, any one or more of the following actions or penalties may be taken or assessed against the person to whom the notice of violation was directed.
a. Stop work order. The Department may issue a stop work order which shall be served on the applicant or other responsible person. A stop work order shall mean that all work on the project must stop unless the work pertains to correcting the violation or installing/maintaining erosion control best management practices in accordance with applicable local ordinances and state law. The stop work order shall remain in effect until the applicant or other responsible person has taken the remedial measures set forth in the notice of violation or has otherwise cured the violation or violations described therein, provided the stop work order may be withdrawn or modified to enable the applicant or other responsible person to take the necessary remedial measures to cure such violation or violations.
b. Withhold certificate of occupancy. The Department may request that the Athens-Clarke County Building Permits and Inspections Department refuse to issue a certificate of occupancy for the building or other improvements constructed or being constructed on the site until the applicant or other responsible person has taken the remedial measures set forth in the notice of violation or has otherwise cured the violations described therein.
c. Suspension, revocation or modification of permit. The Department may suspend, revoke or modify the permit authorizing the land development project. A suspended, revoked or modified permit may be reinstated after the applicant or other responsible person has taken the remedial measures set forth in the notice of violation or has otherwise cured the violations described therein, provided such permit may be reinstated upon such conditions as the Department may deem necessary to enable the applicant or other responsible person to take the necessary remedial measures to cure such violations.
d. Criminal penalties. Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be punished as provided in section 1-1-5 of this Code. Each act of violation and each day upon which any violation shall occur shall constitute a separate offense.
Stormwater Utility Fee
How the Fee Is Calculated
The Equivalent Runoff Unit (ERU) is the base unit for a stormwater utility. An ERU is a measure of the amount of impervious surface on a property. Impervious surfaces, like a concrete parking area or a rooftop, do not allow stormwater to soak into the ground. These surfaces increase the amount of stormwater that runs off of the property and must be managed by the stormwater system.
A single ERU in Athens-Clarke County is 2,628 square feet of impervious surface. That base amount is then applied to larger properties across the county. For example, a property that comprised 7,884 square feet would have an ERU of 3.0.
The quality portion of the fee takes into account the land use of the property in determining the stormwater utility fee. An Intensity of Development (ID) factor is assigned to several categories of land use:
o Low Density Development: 0.5
o Medium Density Development: 1.0
o Multi-family / Institutional Development: 1.3
o Commercial / Industrial Development: 1.9
o Undeveloped: 0.0
The amount of your stormwater utility fee is the sum of the ERUs multiplied by the base rate of $2.07, the ERU multiplied by the quantity rate of $0.86, and the ERU multiplied by the appropriate ID factor and the quality rate of $0.57:
o (ERU x Base Rate) + (ERU x Quantity Rate) + (ERU x Quality Rate x ID Factor) = Monthly Stormwater Fee
The formula above calculates the monthly stormwater fee. When comparing this amount to your utility bill, be sure to remember that the stormwater utility bill is for three months of stormwater charges. An average single-family homeowner is charged for one ERU. For properties charged one ERU, the fee is around $3.50 per month.
Because the stormwater utility fee is a service-based fee, properties with stormwater management facilities such as detention or retention ponds to manage their stormwater runoff may be eligible for a reduction of their fee. The utility credits (fee reductions) may reduce the quantity or quality charges on your stormwater bill. The base charge on your bill is not eligible for reduction.
To qualify for a utility credit, a licensed professional engineer must evaluate the stormwater facility for compliance with the current Athens-Clarke County design standards. These standards can be found in the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual.