Stormwater Utility Information

New Hanover County is exploring the implementation of a stormwater utility for property owners in the unincorporated areas of the county. A stormwater utility would help ensure the continued use and upkeep of the stormwater management system throughout the county. Currently, property owners are responsible for maintaining positive flow in the ditches along their property, and a utility would allow the county to manage this through a stormwater fee.

The new utility fee would only apply to property owners in the unincorporated area of the county (see map below), and would not include the City of Wilmington or the county’s beach towns.

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Stormwater runoff is the water that flows over the ground as the result of rain, snow, hail and sleet. Buildings, streets, driveways, parking lots, sidewalks and patios prevent the water from soaking into the ground. These structures are referred to as impervious surfaces.

As the runoff flows across the ground, it picks up pollutants and carries them into local waterways, and then into the ocean.

It is important to manage stormwater in order to reduce flood risks that may impact public safety and loss or damage of property; and prevent polluted stormwater from flowing directly into rivers and streams.

A stormwater utility is a legal entity that can provide stormwater management activities including administrative functions, planning, engineering, regulation, permitting, maintenance operations, and capital improvements. The stormwater utility (like other utilities – i.e., power and water) provides a method of generating revenue for these activities through user fees.

New Hanover County is currently exploring the process of implementing a stormwater fee for property owners in the unincorporated county. A decision to create a stormwater utility would be made by the Board of Commissioners, and would not go into effect until July 2020.

New Hanover County held stakeholder meetings on Tuesday, July 16 to get public input and feedback on a possible Stormwater Utility. Meetings were held with large landholders and developers, non-profits and churches, commercial property owners, and the general public.

If the Stormwater Utility is approved to move forward, additional community sessions will be held in early 2020 and those will be announced publicly and on this website. The stormwater utility fee, if approved, would not go into effect until July 2020.

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  • July 16: Stakeholder meetings for large landowners and developers, commercial property owners, non-profits, churches, and the general public
  • Fall 2019 (tentative): Update Board of Commissioners on public input, level of service and rate structure, etc.
  • Late 2019: Update Board of Commissioners with finalized plans for a Stormwater Utility and request direction in how to move forward

 If approved to move forward:

  • Early 2020: Public meetings to discuss specifics of program and fee structure of the Stormwater Utility
  • July 2020: Stormwater Utility would be part of the recommended budget and go into effect with the FY 20-21 budget on July 1 if approved (fee would potentially be collected through the county’s tax bills, mailed in August)
Engineering: 230 Government Center Dr, Suite 160 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7139 • Fax 910-798-7051