Chapter 13.04


13.04.010    Establishment of stormwater utility.

13.04.020    Purpose.

13.04.030    Clean water utility fund.

13.04.040    Definitions.

13.04.050    Clean water advisory committee.

13.04.060    Guidelines for clean water service charges.

13.04.070    Clean water service charges.

13.04.080    Repealed.

13.04.090    Administration.

13.04.100    Adjustment and appeals of charges.

13.04.110    Clean water fund appropriation.

13.04.120    Clean water service charge exemptions.

13.04.130    Clean water service charge adjustments.

13.04.010 Establishment of stormwater utility.

Pursuant to Chapter 36.89 RCW et seq., the San Juan County stormwater utility, also to be known as the clean water utility, is established under the direction of the County council, to be administered and operated by the department of public works. The utility is authorized to exercise all lawful powers necessary and appropriate to planning, designing, establishing, acquiring, developing, financing, constructing, operating, managing, improving, maintaining, controlling and requesting stormwater facilities including, without limitation, all lawful powers to fix, alter, regulate and control the rates and charges and conditions for the use thereof and full power to enter into agreements with other governmental entities for such purposes. (Ord. 10-2018 § 1; Ord. 24-2009 § 2; Ord. 14-2005 § 1)

13.04.020 Purpose.

The San Juan County stormwater utility is established to minimize property damage, promote and protect the public health, safety and welfare, minimize water quality degradation by preventing siltation, flooding, contamination and erosion of the County’s waterways and drainages, protect aquifers, ensure the safety of County roads and rights-of-way, increase educational and recreational opportunities, restore fisheries, encourage the retention of open space, and foster other beneficial public uses including the use of low impact development strategies and technologies to the extent practicable. (Ord. 14-2005 § 2)

13.04.030 Clean water utility fund.

A fund is hereby created to be known as the clean water utility fund. All taxes, fees, charges, or other revenues from any source, if any, imposed herein or hereafter under the authority of this section, shall be placed in the clean water utility fund for the purpose of paying all or any part of the cost of all proper expenses of the San Juan County stormwater utility. All monies in the stormwater utility fund shall be transferred to the clean water utility fund. (Ord. 10-2018 § 2; Ord. 14-2005 § 3)

13.04.040 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the words or phrases below shall have the following meanings:

A. “County” means San Juan County, Washington.

B. “County road” means public rights-of-way shown on the official County road log maintained by the County engineer and adopted into the County road system by the County council.

C. “Director” means the director of the San Juan County department of public works or their designee.

D. “Low impact development (LID)” is a decentralized stormwater management strategy that uses natural processes such as the interception and uptake by vegetation, infiltration devices, and detention to simulate pre-development water balance and hydrology.

E. “Parcel” means the smallest separately segregated unit or plot of land having an identified owner, boundaries, and surface area which is documented for real property purposes, and a tax lot number assigned by the San Juan County assessor.

F. “Service charge” means the amount owed after applying the appropriate rate to a particular parcel of real property with equivalent service unit(s) based upon factors established by this chapter.

G. “Impervious cover or area or surface” means constructed surfaces that accumulate airborne and/or car-generated pollutants, and/or alter the direction, rate, or volume of water flow into the soil in comparison with natural conditions prior to development. Examples include: rooftops, patios, paved/chip sealed or highly compacted gravel roads or driveways that shed water, all parking areas, multimodal trails, or other constructed features that create a barrier to absorbing water into the soil.

H. “Stormwater facilities” shall mean any facility, improvement, development, property or interest thereon made, constructed or acquired for the purpose of controlling or protecting life or property from any runoff, storm, waste, flood or surplus waters wherever located within the County, and shall include but not be limited to the improvements and authority described in Chapter 86.12 RCW et seq. and Chapter 86.15 RCW et seq. (Ord. 10-2018 § 3; Ord. 47-2008 § 1; Ord. 14-2005 § 4)

13.04.050 Clean water advisory committee.

A. Establishment. There is hereby created a clean water advisory committee, the members of which shall be appointed by the County council.

B. Purpose. The purpose of the clean water advisory committee is to provide advice to the County council and make recommendations on matters pertaining to water, including capital facilities, projects, priorities of projects, and other policy matters as referred by the County council related to the operation of an effective stormwater utility. The recommendations of the committee should be received by July 1st of each year to allow the County council sufficient time to consider the recommendations prior to the adoption of the capital facilities plans.

C. Membership. The clean water advisory committee shall be composed of seven to 12 members, with a minimum of two and a maximum of four members from each County council legislative residency district. Each member shall be appointed for a term of four years, with the option for one renewal, the dates of which shall coincide with the full term of the respective Council member district.

D. Rules. In conducting its business, the clean water advisory committee shall follow the Uniform Business Rules, including the Rules of Procedure, unless other rules have been duly adopted by the County council.

E. Representation. The County council shall seek to appoint clean water advisory committee members with a diversity of field expertise including: storm/surface/groundwater management, water rights, environmental protection, aquatic habitat, agricultural water use, water policy and law. The County council shall seek to appoint members who represent the diversity of island residency to the extent possible. (Ord. 10-2018 § 4; Ord. 47-2008 § 2)

13.04.060 Guidelines for clean water service charges.

A. Clean water service charges for the stormwater utility shall be established by the County council by ordinance after first considering the formulae in SJCC 13.04.070, recommendations of the clean water advisory committee, and testimony from the public at a public hearing. (Ord. 10-2018 § 5; Ord. 47-2008 § 3)

13.04.070 Clean water service charges.

A. The clean water service charge is calculated based on the amount of impervious area within a parcel, called an equivalent service unit (ESU). One ESU equals 10,000 square feet or less of impervious area, regardless of parcel size, except that a parcel with no impervious area will be assigned zero ESUs. A parcel containing more than 10,000 square feet of impervious area will be assigned additional ESUs proportioned to the remaining impervious area on the parcel. The clean water service charge consists of both the basic and capital service charges.

B. Basic Service Charge. Each parcel in San Juan County with one or more ESUs that is not exempt under this chapter and which exists on September 1st during the year charges are calculated shall be charged, and the owner shall pay, an annual clean water service charge for each ESU. The basic service charge is to be calculated based upon estimates of the next year’s costs of those parts of the service charge which benefit the citizens throughout the County equally such as, but not limited to: administration and overhead, watershed planning, water quality monitoring, public outreach and technical assistance, billing and collection, engineering and plan review, maintenance of County stormwater systems and facilities, protection against flooding of County roads, protection of the quality and quantity of groundwater, protection of the nearshore marine environment, and compliance with state law.

C. Capital Service Charge. Each parcel in San Juan County with one or more ESUs that is not exempt under this chapter and which exists on September 1st during the year charges are calculated shall be charged and the owner shall pay an annual capital service charge for each ESU. The capital service charge is to be calculated based upon a five-year forward rolling average of the estimated annual capital expenses of clean water improvements as itemized in the six-year clean water capital improvement plan, with one-half of the capital service charge assessed equally on all parcels in the County, and one-half of the capital service charge charged equally on parcels on each island where improvement projects are identified in the plan.

D. The clean water service charges shall exclude from the calculation any expenses that are projected to be paid for by the road fund.

E. Except as otherwise provided in RCW 90.03.525, any public entity and public property, including the state of Washington and state property and San Juan County and County property, shall be subject to rates and charges for the clean water utility to the same extent private persons and private property are subject to such rates and charges that are imposed by counties pursuant to RCW 36.89.080. (Ord. 10-2018 § 6; Ord. 47-2008 § 4)

13.04.080 Amount of stormwater service charge.

Repealed by Ord. 10-2018. (Ord. 47-2008 § 5)

13.04.090 Administration.

A. Clean water service charges shall be reviewed annually to ensure the ESU per parcel is accurate. For efficiency and convenience, the clean water service charges shall be billed in conjunction with the first half of the San Juan County property tax statements. Property owners who do not receive a property tax statement will receive a separate billing statement.

B. Service charges are due and payable on or before the thirtieth day of April, and shall be delinquent after that date. However, if one-half of such service charges are paid on or before the said thirtieth day of April, the remainder shall be due and payable on or before the thirty-first day of October and shall be delinquent after that date, in the same manner as regular property taxes. Any delinquent amount shall be charged interest at the rate of 12 percent per annum and shall be a lien on the property, which lien may be foreclosed after three years from the date the clean water service charge becomes delinquent in the same manner as the foreclosure of the regular property tax levy. (Ord. 10-2018 § 8; Ord. 47-2008 § 6)

13.04.100 Adjustment and appeals of charges.

A. Any person billed for clean water service charges may file a request for service charge adjustment with the County auditor within 30 days of the date of the bill. Submittal of such a request does not extend the date the service charge becomes due and payable.

B. A request for service charge adjustment may be granted by the County auditor only when the County auditor finds that the service charge has been applied in a manner inconsistent with the ordinance establishing the service charge.

C. Service charge adjustments will only apply to the bill then due and payable, and bills subsequently issued.

D. The property owner shall have the burden of proving that the service charge adjustment should be granted.

E. Decisions on requests for service charge adjustment shall be made by the County auditor based on information submitted by the applicant and by the public works department within 30 days of the adjustment request, except when additional information is needed. The applicant shall be notified in writing of the County auditor’s decision. If an adjustment is granted which reduces the service charge for the current year, the applicant shall be refunded the amount overpaid in the current year together with interest thereon at 12 percent per annum on the amount overpaid from the date of payment to the date of refund. (Ord. 10-2018 § 9; Ord. 47-2008 § 7)

13.04.110 Clean water fund appropriation.

A. The service charges collected from the assessment of the clean water service charges shall be deposited in a fund or funds called the “clean water fund” in the County treasury to be used only for the purpose of paying all or any part of the cost and expense of maintaining and operating stormwater control facilities or any part of the cost or expense of planning, designing, establishing, acquiring, developing, constructing and improving any of such facilities and may not be transferred to any other fund or used for any purpose not previously approved by the County council. Separate funds shall be established for the basic service charge and for the capital service charge for capital expenses.

B. The fund with the basic service charges may be used for items which benefit citizens throughout the county as described in SJCC 13.04.070, such as watershed basin planning, water quality monitoring, gathering data, measuring impervious area, education and technical assistance, source control, groundwater management activities, surface water evaluation, system retrofits, maintenance of stormwater facilities, and administrative expenses including staff time, maintenance and overhead.

C. The fund with capital service charges shall be used for costs associated with capital facilities on the islands for which the capital service charge was collected. Capital funds collected Countywide may be used on projects anywhere in the County. (Ord. 10-2018 § 10; Ord. 47-2008 § 8)

13.04.120 Clean water service charge exemptions.

The following parcels are exempt from the clean water service charges in this chapter:

A. Parcels with an assessed value of less than $500.00 as determined by the San Juan County assessor, except for those parcels classified by the assessor as “exempt – underlying land” parcels and those parcels which have an assessed value of less than $500.00 due to Washington Department of Revenue nonprofit or government status.

B. Parcels consisting entirely of tidelands or oysterlands.

C. Parcels held in public open space, conservation trust, cemeteries or private common open space without impervious area.

D. Parcels taxed as forest land under Chapter 84.33 RCW or as timber land under Chapter 84.34 RCW. (Ord. 10-2018 § 11; Ord. 20-2014 § 2)

13.04.130 Clean water service charge adjustments.

The following parcels may receive an adjustment to the clean water service charges in this chapter:

A. In accordance with RCW 36.89.080, the charge to be imposed shall be reduced by a minimum of 10 percent for any new or remodeled commercial building that utilizes a permissive rainwater harvesting system that is properly sized to utilize the available roof surface of the building. The service charge structure shall consider rate reductions in excess of 10 percent depending upon the amount of rainwater harvested.

B. In recognition of the benefits of on-site stormwater management in maintaining the capacity of the overall drainage system, impervious area treated and flow-controlled on site in an engineered stormwater facility (such as a swale and detention pond) as part of permitted development may receive a reduction to the ESU calculation for the parcel. Such reduction may not reduce the parcel below one ESU. Reductions shall be determined by the public works director or their designee following the property owner’s written request and shall be calculated by estimating the proportion of the stormwater control provided. (Ord. 10-2018 § 12)