|The Water Quality Management Fee provides funding for projects to improve water quality in our creeks and streams.
Single-family homes and duplexes pay 1 ERU (Equivalent Residential Unit) per month.
Apartment complexes and non-residential properties will pay the fee based on the total amount of impervious surface on their properties. Impervious surfaces are areas such as roofs, parking lots and driveways that do not absorb water when it rains. The fee is calculated per 2,500 square feet of impervious surface, which equals 1 ERU.
As of July 1, 2016, the Water Quality Management Fee is $4.68 per ERU.
Frequently Asked Questions
About the Water Quality Management Fee
Why is stormwater a problem?
When rain falls on grass, wooded areas and other undeveloped land, the water soaks into the ground or slowly drains into lakes and streams. Urban areas have less undeveloped land and more surfaces such as concrete and rooftops that do not allow rainwater to be absorbed. These impervious surfaces create stormwater runoff that moves quickly and can contain pollutants from residential and commercial activities. This leads to flooding, water pollution, and erosion problems.
Why has LFUCG implemented a water quality management fee? Will this program help our water quality issues?
The program that will be funded by the fee has been reviewed and approved by the U.S. EPA and the Kentucky Division of Water. The program will put Lexington in compliance with the Clean Water Act and with our state MS4 Permit.
We will know the "cleanliness" or quality of the water by measuring the amount of pollutants in the water over time and by assessing the stream's health through monitoring of fish, insects, wildlife, and habitat. The EPA and the Kentucky Division of Water approved a comprehensive monitoring program that has been implemented as part of the Consent Decree and MS4 permit.
What is an equivalent residential unit (ERU)?
An ERU is the average impervious area on a single family residential lot in Fayette County. The ERU is 2,500 square feet.
Who has to pay the fee?
All developed properties in Fayette County.
How much is the fee?
• Single family homes and duplexes are one ERU and pay a monthly fee of $4.68.
• Farm parcels with development pay a monthly fee of $4.68.
• Apartments and condominiums with three units or more in a single building are considered non-residential for the purpose of fee calculation.
• Non-residential property pay a monthly fee of $4.68 multiplied by their number of ERUs.
• Undeveloped property does not receive a bill.
• The fee is billed with other LFUCG city services through LexServ City Services.
Who pays the bill for a property containing multiple tenants?
The owner of the property parses the number of ERUs among the tenants, and the apportioned fee is included on the customer’s LexServ City Services bill.
If a tenant in this situation disagrees with the number of ERUs billed to the water account, the tenant must contact the property owner to dispute the ERUs attributed to their portion of the leased property.
This includes residential customers who live in apartment buildings or condominiums and who pay their own water bills. The ERUs are divided up by the apartment management, condo association, etc. and the apportioned fee is included on the customer’s water bill. If the customer disagrees with the ERUs on the water bill, they must contact their apartment management or condo association.
Is the fee used to pay for flood mitigation projects?
Yes, the fee will fund at least $30M of flooding projects in 10 years as required by the Consent Decree.
When did the fee go into effect?
The water quality management fee was approved by the Urban County Council on May 14, 2009, and the first bills were sent out in January, 2010.
How are private streets billed?
Private streets that serve single family residences are not billed for the impervious surface of the street. Residents of single-family homes and duplexes on private streets are billed one ERU.
Private streets in areas that do not serve single-family dwellings are treated as parking lots and are counted as part of the property’s impervious area.
What is the incentives grant program?
Part of the fee goes to fund projects that reduce stormwater runoff, improve water quality, or provide an educational benefit. Eligible applicants may include, but are not limited to: property owners, neighborhood associations, and schools. Learn more >>>
Why did the Urban County Government decide to adopt an incentive program instead of a credit program?
The Urban County Government believes it is more cost effective to have an incentive program because the money can be targeted to projects and areas where it is needed the most. Credit programs have been implemented in other cities to encourage property owners to reduce stormwater runoff by constructing best management practices (BMPs). However, credit programs generally have a low participation rate because property owners have found the cost of constructing BMPs to far outweigh the benefit of a reduced fee. Credit programs also require significant effort on the government’s part to set up the program and monitor the projects over time. This runs counter to the goal of a low overhead program. It should be noted that a property owner will get a “credit” through a fee reduction if impervious areas, such as parking lots and roofs, are changed to pervious surfaces.
Why do small homes pay the same fee as a large home?
The administrative cost for having different rates was determined to be too high and runs counter to the goal of a program with low overhead.
Why should property that meets current stormwater design standards pay the same as property that does not meet current design standards? Shouldn't newer development get a "credit" since they have constructed BMPs to meet current standards?
It would be very difficult to analyze each property to determine the extent to which it meets current standards and then to determine the corresponding fee. This would lead to a confusing and complex billing system that would be a challenge to manage effectively. Also, there is a general feeling that no one should get a "credit" for meeting current regulations and design standards.
I have a detention basin or retention pond on my property. Do I still have to pay the fee?
It is extremely rare for a stormwater management structure such as a basin or pond to handle all of the runoff from an average storm. For this reason, there will be no exemptions from the fee for retention ponds or detention basins. Please visit our detention basin and retention pond page for more information about these structures.
Why should nonresidential property have to pay approximately 65% of the total fee when they only make up about 40% of the land area?
The fee is calculated based on the amount of impervious area. Nonresidential property contains about 65% of the total impervious area.
Why are public streets exempt?
Public streets are considered part of the drainage system.
Why is the fee applied to the rural area?
The Urban County Council believes that all property owners in Fayette County should pay the fee because all owners will benefit.
Do other cities in our region have water quality management fees? Is Lexington’s fee comparable?
Many cities in Kentucky and in surrounding states have fees in place to fund stormwater management programs.
Monthly Stormwater Fees in KY and in Our Region
Charlotte, NC $5.51
Louisville, KY $5.35
Radcliff, KY $4.50
Northern KY Sanitation District $4.30
Dayton, OH $4.28
Warren County, KY $4.00
Columbia, SC $3.95
Oldham County, KY $3.43
Danville, KY $3.36
Hopkinsville, KY $3.00
Chattanooga, TN $3.00
Henderson, KY $2.00
Murray, KY $1.50
Sources: Western KY Stormwater Utility Survey, 2008 and local government websites