Chapter 12.09


12.09.010    Legislative Findings and Policy.

12.09.020    Creation of a Stormwater Management Utility.

12.09.025    Public Services Director – Powers and Duties.

12.09.030    Definitions.

12.09.040    Funding of the Stormwater Management Utility.

12.09.050    Operating Budget.

12.09.060    Special Operating Fund.

12.09.070    Investments.

12.09.080    Reserve Account.

12.09.090    Bad Debts.

12.09.100    Stormwater Utility Fees Established.

12.09.110    Delineation of Stormwater Utility Boundary.

12.09.120    Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU).

12.09.130    Property Classification for Stormwater User’s Fee.

12.09.140    Base Rate.

12.09.150    Adjustments to Stormwater User’s Fees.

12.09.160    Property Exempt from Fees.

12.09.170    Property Owners to Pay Fees.

12.09.180    Billing Procedures and Penalties for Late Payment.

12.09.190    Appeals of Fees.

12.09.200    Severability.

12.09.210    Effective Date.

12.09.010 Legislative Findings and Policy.

The County Commissioners find, determine and declare that the public stormwater control facilities, which provide for the collection, treatment, storage and disposal of stormwater, provides benefits and services to developed property within the unincorporated County limits where such services and facilities are available. Such benefits include, but are not limited to: the provision of adequate systems of collection, conveyance, detention, treatment and release of stormwater; the reduction of hazards to property and life resulting from stormwater runoff; improvements in general health and welfare through reduction of undesirable stormwater conditions; and improvements to the water quality of the stormwater and its receiving waters. Federal and state laws mandate that operation of such systems require Yakima County to implement water quality protection activities and programs to reduce and control the potential to pollute surface waters by storm drainage originating on both public and private properties.

The County Commissioners find, determine and declare that development of lands alters both the amount of stormwater runoff and the amount of pollution contained in such runoff and that the variation in these two factors constitutes a fair way to determine the burdens imposed upon the system and the benefits of the services received by the customer from the pollution management and regulatory services and facilities provided by a utility for stormwater management, and the customer’s charges for management of such burdens and provision of such services and facilities.

The County Commissioners find, determine and declare that the amount of impervious surface, land use, and rainfall determines the volume of runoff and the general level of pollution from a property and this has been well established in both engineering practice and water quality studies by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Ecology, the United States Geological Survey, the Soil Conservation Service, and others. While the relationships established by the above studies are adequate to assign charges, the Yakima County Stormwater Management Utility for the service area has and can perform local studies and, based upon the results of these, may adjust rates and charges in the future to more accurately reflect the burdens imposed by customer classes within Yakima County.

The County Commissioners find, determine and declare that to fund the costs of stormwater management in the service area of the utility, it is necessary to adopt service charges for stormwater users, with rates varying according to the services furnished, the burdens imposed or benefits received by service area customers, and the character, use and stormwater runoff characteristics of the land.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.020 Creation of a Stormwater Management Utility.

Pursuant to RCW 36.89 and 36.94, there is hereby created a Yakima County Stormwater Management Utility for a defined service area.

The Stormwater Management Utility, under the legislative policy, supervision and control of the governing body of the County, shall perform the following activities within the service area:

(1)    Administer the acquisition, design, construction, maintenance and operation of the stormwater system, including executing capital improvements designated in the capital improvement program and sharing appropriately in their costs;

(2)    Administer and enforce this chapter and all regulations and procedures adopted thereto relating to the design, construction, maintenance, operation, and alteration of the utility stormwater system, including, but not limited to, the quantity, quality and/or velocity of the stormwater conveyed thereby;

(3)    Advise the County’s governing body and other County departments and divisions on matters relating to the utility;

(4)    Prepare and periodically revise, as determined by state and federal law, comprehensive stormwater management and drainage plans;

(5)    Develop standards and ordinances relating to stormwater drainage and treatment to apply to new development and redevelopment;

(6)    Enforce regulations to protect and maintain water quality and quantity within the stormwater system in compliance with receiving body water quality standards, such as Total Maximum Daily Loads, as established by state, regional and/or federal agencies, as now adopted or hereafter amended;

(7)    Annually analyze the cost of services and benefits provided to and burden imposed by different classes of customers, and the system and structure of fees, charges, civil penalties and other revenues of the utility, and prepare budgets for adoption by the County’s governing body; and

(8)    Perform all other activities allowable by law and required to ensure compliance with state and federal stormwater and water quality laws.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.025 Public Services Director – Powers and Duties.

The director shall supervise and be responsible for development, design, construction, excavations, repairs, connections and maintenance of the county MS4 and for operation and administration of the Yakima County Stormwater Management Utility, and shall enforce the rules and regulations provided in this chapter. The Public Services Director may designate employees within his department to act on his behalf.

(Ord. 1-2010 Exh. A § 1, 2010).

12.09.030 Definitions.

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter:

“Agricultural parcel” means a parcel of real property that is currently used for production of agricultural crops or raising livestock, excluding: large processing, storage, and finishing facilities, and confined animal operations.

“Base rate” means the service charge for one equivalent residential unit (ERU).

“Commercial/industrial parcel” means a parcel of real property that is primarily used for commercial purposes. For the purposes of stormwater fees, this grouping includes other parcels of real property with large amounts of impervious surfaces, for example: apartment complexes and mobile home parks, governmental buildings, churches, schools, confined animal operations, and food processing, storage, and finishing facilities.

“County” means Yakima County, Washington, a political subdivision created and existing under the laws of the state of Washington.

“Credit” means the extent to which utility customers meeting specified criteria are billed at a reduced fee, such reduction representing a fee credit. The fee credit is provided in recognition that those utility customers who meet the specified criteria provide an in-kind service or contribution that offsets a portion of the burdens on the stormwater system imposed by the credited parcel.

“Developed property” means real property, that has been altered from its natural state by: (a) the creation or addition of impervious surface areas such as buildings, structures, and pavement, (b) agricultural production, or (c) other improvements.

“Director” means the duly appointed Director of the Yakima County Department of Public Services or his or her designee.

“Duplex, tri-plex, and four-plex” means buildings designed and arranged exclusively for occupancy by two (2), three (3), and four (4) families, respectively, living independently of each other in separate dwelling units.

“Dwelling unit” means a single unit providing complete, independent living facilities for one (1) family including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation.

“Equivalent residential unit” or “ERU” means, and is equal to, 3,600 square feet of impervious groundcover, which approximates the average impervious surface area contained on single-family residential parcels within the utility area in and around the cities of Yakima and Union Gap. It is also the measure used by the utility in calculating service charges for commercial/industrial and agricultural parcels.

“Exempt property” means parcels of real property which, for legal reasons, are not subject to utility fees, including: trust lands within the Yakama Nation Reservation and commercial timberlands.

“Fee” or “Stormwater fee” means the service charge established under this chapter and charged to owners of parcels or pieces of real property to fund the costs of stormwater management within the utility service area.

“Impervious surface” means a surface covered with material that is resistant to infiltration by water, including, but not limited to: most conventionally surfaced streets, roofs, sidewalks, patios, driveways, and parking lots which impede the natural infiltration of rainfall.

“Impervious surface area” means the number of square feet of horizontal surface covered by buildings and other impervious surfaces.

“Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer System,” “MS4,” “Stormwater System” or “System” means a conveyance or system of conveyances (including roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, manmade channels, or storm drains) owned or operated by the County; designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater; which is not a combined sewer, and is not part of a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) as defined at 40 CFR 122.2.

“Residential parcel” means: a single-family residence, a vacation home, a mobile home on a separate parcel of real property, individual two- to four-unit duplexes and four-plexes on an individual parcel of real property, and other parcels of real property where the primary use is residential, excluding apartment complexes.

“Service area” or “utility service area” means the utility service area encompassing the unincorporated area where more stormwater regulations apply, greater stormwater burdens arise from increased levels of impervious surfaces and higher intensity stormwater programs will be in effect, or where other utility benefits may apply; as amended from time to time by the Board of County Commissioners.

“Stormwater” means that portion of precipitation that does not naturally percolate into the ground or evaporate, but flows via overland flow, interflow, pipes and other features of a stormwater and surface water system into a defined surface water body, or a constructed infiltration facility.

“Stormwater control facility” means the natural and manmade facilities that combined provide stormwater management services within the urban service area.

“Stormwater control system,” “stormwater system” or “system” means all facilities, properties, interest, physical and intangible rights of every kind or nature owned, held or operated by the County within the unincorporated service area of the County, however acquired, insofar as they contribute to the management of storm or surface water. It shall further include, without limitation, all such properties and rights acquired by adverse possession or by prescription, directly or through another: in and to the drainage or storage, or both, of stormwaters, or both; and through, under, or over lands, landforms, watercourses, sloughs, streams, ponds, lakes, wetlands and swamps. In each case or instance, their inclusion begins at a point where storm or surface waters first enter the stormwater control facility of the County within the County. The designation ends, in each case or instance where at a point where such storm or surface waters exit from the stormwater control facility of the County, and in width, to the full extent of inundation caused by the largest flood or storm condition.

“Stormwater management” means the planning, design, construction, regulation, improvement, repair, maintenance, and operation of facilities and programs within the service area of the County relating to storm drainage and stormwater quality.

“Stormwater management fund” or “fund” means the enterprise fund created by this chapter to operate, maintain, and improve the County’s utility service area MS4, as required by stormwater laws.

“Stormwater management utility,” “Stormwater utility” or “Utility” means the Stormwater Management Utility for the defined service area created by this chapter as it may be amended from time to time.

“Total Maximum Daily Load,” “TMDL” or “Water Quality Improvement Project” is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards, and an allocation of that amount to the pollutant’s sources.

“Waiver” means that the determination of the Director that a utility customer’s property has met the criteria specified in YCC 12.09.150(3) of this chapter to receive a waiver from paying stormwater fees. Any waiver will require a showing that parcels that meet the specified criteria provide an in-kind service or contribution that offsets the burdens on the stormwater system imposed by the parcel(s) subject to the waiver.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.040 Funding of the Stormwater Management Utility.

Funding for the stormwater management utility’s services and facilities may include, but not be limited to, the following:

(1)    Stormwater user’s fees;

(2)    Civil penalties and damage assessments imposed for or arising from the violation of this chapter;

(3)    Stormwater permit and inspection fees adopted under separate authorities;

(4)    Revenue bonds; and

(5)    Other funds or income obtained from federal, state, local or private grants.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.050 Operating Budget.

The County Commissioners shall adopt an operating budget for the stormwater management utility each fiscal year. The operating budget shall set forth for such fiscal year the estimated revenues and the established costs for operations and maintenance, capital improvement projects, and debt service.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.060 Special Operating Fund.

All service charges collected shall be deposited in a separate fund in the County treasury, to be used only for the purpose of paying all or any part of the cost and expense of carrying out required service area stormwater and surface water quality programs, maintaining and operating stormwater management facilities, all or any part of the cost and expense of planning, designing, establishing, acquiring, developing, constructing and improving stormwater control and treatment facilities, or to secure the payment of all or any portion of any issue of general obligation bond or revenue bond issued for such purpose.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.070 Investments.

Moneys in the fund not needed for immediate expenditure shall be invested for the benefit of the special operating fund pursuant to the first paragraph of RCW 36.89.020 and such procedures and limitations contained in county ordinances.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.080 Reserve Account.

An operating and emergency reserve account shall be maintained. This fund will be reserved as an unappropriated operating reserve to accommodate cash flow variations, respond to emergencies, and react to other special circumstances.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.090 Bad Debts.

The stormwater management utility is authorized to write off debts upon specific approval by the County Commissioners by resolution after a determination of uncollectability using the collection process concluding with the use of a collection agency if needed.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.100 Stormwater Utility Fees Established.

Except with respect to parcels that are waived from paying user fees as described in YCC 12.09.150 of this chapter or exempted from paying user fees as described in YCC 12.09.160 of this chapter, the County shall charge and collect from the owner of each and every property in the utility service area of the unincorporated County a stormwater utility fee, which shall be set annually by ordinance or resolution, in the manner prescribed by this chapter. The purpose of this fee is to fund the stormwater utility for the defined service area.

Prior to establishing or amending user’s fees, the County shall advertise its intent to do so by publishing notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the County. The publication date of such advertisement shall meet public notice requirements of local and state laws.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.110 Delineation of Stormwater Utility Boundary.

The County Commissioners find that there is a large variation in the density of development and the proportion of the land covered by impervious surfaces within the County. The County Commissioners further find that there is also a variation in the number of stormwater regulations and stormwater management benefits that apply between different land uses of the County, thus affecting the intensity of the required stormwater management programs. The County Commissioners find that utility services are currently necessary within specific, defined areas of the County but not within other, generally less developed, areas of the County. Therefore, County parcels shall be divided into two (2) categories: (1) those that fall within a defined service area and subject to the charges set forth in this chapter; and (2) those that fall outside the defined service area and shall not be subject to the charges set forth in this chapter. The boundary of the utility service area shall include parcels within the following area: (a) the boundary of the Yakima Urbanized Area as defined by the federal Census Bureau; and (b) the unincorporated areas within the urban growth boundaries of the cities of Yakima, Union Gap, Selah, and Sunnyside.

Exhibit 1 is the updated boundary of the utility service area. Exhibit 2 includes a list of parcels in the updated utility service area. The revised utility service area incorporates Drainage Improvement Districts 33, 34, 43, 44 and 46, and are absorbed in the utility service area. The attached Exhibits 1 and 2 are incorporated in this chapter. Stormwater charges shall apply to parcels created by future land division or merger of parcels listed in Exhibit 2.

The boundaries of, and parcels included in, the service area shall change as changes to urban growth areas or census areas are made, or as lands are annexed into cities. The utility service area shall be adjusted annually to reflect said actions.

The utility service area shall be reviewed and amended annually by the Public Services Director.

Exhibit 1 – Map of 2015 Yakima County Stormwater Management
Utility Service Area (Reviewed and updated annually)

Exhibit 2 – Table of 2015 Parcels Included Within the Yakima County
Utility Service Area (Reviewed and updated annually)    

(Ord. 5-2014, 2014: Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.120 Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU).

(1)    Establishment. The equivalent residential unit (ERU) is hereby established for purposes of calculating the stormwater user’s fees.

(2)    Setting the ERUs. The ERU shall be set by the County Commissioners from time to time by ordinance or resolution. Until such time that there is a change in conditions requiring an adjustment to the ERU, it is set at the following value: One ERU = 3,600 square feet of impervious surface. This value was determined by averaging measurements of impervious surface on single-family home residential parcels within the County.

(3)    Source of ERU. The County Commissioners shall have the discretion to determine the impervious surface area, land use, parcel size and other information for developed property through property tax assessor’s rolls, or site examination, mapping information, aerial photographs, statistical extrapolation, and other reliable information.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.130 Property Classification for Stormwater User’s Fee.

As authorized by RCW Chapters 36.89 and 36.94, the County Commissioners find that variations in land use, location, and impervious surfaces result in differences in the burdens imposed upon the stormwater system and the costs to serve such parcels. County parcels shall be differentiated from one another based upon the stormwater burdens imposed by the parcels and the costs of stormwater services provided to the parcels.

(1)    Customer Classification. For purposes of determining the stormwater user’s fees, owners of all developed parcels in the County are classified into one of the following general classes, based on land use:

(a)    Residential;

(b)    Commercial/industrial (including government, military, schools, churches, apartments, mobile home parks, etc.);

(c)    Agricultural; and

(d)    Exempt.

To reflect the burdens imposed upon the County stormwater system, parcels with industrially or commercially related facilities will have fees determined in the same manner as the commercial/industrial class regardless of the land use codes assigned by the County assessor or the zoning.

(2)    Residential Fee. The stormwater management fee for discrete residential parcels shall equal the base rate. Condominium parcels shall also be charged the base rate.

(3)    Commercial/Industrial Fee. The stormwater management fee for commercial, industrial, institutional, apartments, mobile home parks, and governmental parcels shall equal the base rate times the number of ERUs. The number of ERUs is determined by dividing the amount of impervious surface (in feet squared) on the parcel by 3,600 square feet. The minimum charge for commercial or industrial parcels shall be the base rate.

(4)    Agricultural Parcels. The stormwater management fee for agricultural parcels shall be the base rate multiplied by the number of assigned ERUs as shown below:

Assignment of ERUs to Agricultural Parcels

Parcel Size


Up to one acre


Greater than 1 acre, up to and including 5 acres


Greater than 5 acres, up to and including 20 acres


Greater than 20 acres, up to and including 40 acres


Greater than 40 acres, up to and including 70 acres


Greater than 70 acres, up to and including 100 acres


Greater than 100 acres (parcel sizes in acres)

parcel size ÷ 25

(5)    Exempt Parcels. There shall be no stormwater user’s fee for exempt parcels.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.140 Base Rate.

The base rate shall be calculated to provide adequate revenues to cover all costs incurred by the utility pursuant to this chapter. The County Commissioners adopt the following base rate for years 2008 – 2010 as shown:


Annual Base Rate







Base rates shall be adjusted or maintained as needed to account for inflation and/or change in program expenses. The frequency of adjustments to annual base rates thereafter shall be as required to ensure fair and full funding of the utility.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.150 Adjustments to Stormwater User’s Fees.

Credits allowed under this section shall not be cumulative. Credits or waivers must be granted by the Director by October 15th of a given year in order for the credit or waiver to be in effect for the following billing year. Credits or waivers are not retroactive to current or prior billings and are only in effect for the next billing years. Credits or waivers may be in effect for multiple future billing years provided that ongoing qualifying criteria are met. The Director will take such time as necessary to process requests for credits or waivers in an orderly fashion. Late requests and related submittals of information may result in credits or waivers being granted too late to be applied for the following billing year. Parcels or portions of parcels with facilities that meet one of the criteria listed below, to the Director’s satisfaction, shall receive a reduction from the fee charged for that portion of the site providing credit, as follows:

(1)    Any parcel that has an active and valid NPDES Industrial Stormwater or Confined Animal Feeding Operation Stormwater permit shall be eligible for a 20% credit applied toward that portion of their stormwater charge arising from the property for which the permit is issued. A copy of the permit and the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) shall be provided to the Director.

The property owner is responsible for providing all documentation necessary to demonstrate compliance with the above requirements. Documentation shall be by a licensed civil engineer with the state of Washington. In the event facilities or control measures address only a portion of the total parcel, the credit will be applied to only that affected portion. The property owner must maintain any water quantity and/or quality control facility in accordance with Department of Ecology maintenance guidelines and appropriate practice, to ensure proper function and effectiveness of the facility. Commercial/industrial parcel owners receiving credits shall agree to allow the County to periodically inspect the subject stormwater facilities. The County may request documentation from facility owners to verify that proper maintenance has been performed. The County may notify owners in writing of maintenance needs or deficiencies. Failure to maintain the facilities within 30 days after written notice may be cause for termination of the credit granted in this section.

(2)    Credit for Rainwater Harvesting Systems. Upon review and approval by the Director, owners of new or newly constructed commercial/industrial class buildings that utilize a properly constructed and maintained permissive rainwater harvesting system shall be eligible for a 10% credit applied toward that portion of their stormwater charge arising from the building upon which the system is used. Rainwater harvesting and beneficial reuse of the runoff is found by County Commissioners to both reduce the burden imposed upon the system by the building by reducing runoff and to also have other beneficial water quality effects such as reduced consumption of potable water. Customers desiring this credit shall apply to the Director and shall submit engineering design and operational information as deemed necessary by the Director to make their evaluation and decision.

(3)    Waiver of Utility Fees for Certain Property. The Director shall waive stormwater and surface water utility fees for a parcel falling within the following special categories of property upon a showing that the parcel meets the following applicable criteria for so long as the criteria are met:

(a)    Fees shall be waived for County road and street rights-of-way so long as the County road fund shall continue to contribute to the proper operation, maintenance, repair, improvement, and construction of the road drainage system, and shall reimburse the utility for services performed on their behalf;

(b)    Fees shall be waived for County facilities so long as the County facility shall continue the proper operation, maintenance, repair, improvement, and construction of the storm drainage system, and shall reimburse the utility for services performed on their behalf;

(c)    Fees shall be waived for state of Washington highway rights-of-way, so long as the state of Washington cooperates with the utility in the provision of services and maintains, constructs and improves all drainage facilities contained within such rights-of-way as required by the utility in conformance with all utility standards for maintenance, construction and improvement hereafter established by the utility and so far as such maintenance, construction and improvements shall be achieved at no cost to the utility or to the County.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.160 Property Exempt from Fees.

Trust lands within the boundary of the Yakama Nation, incorporated cities, and zoned private timberlands are exempt from County utility stormwater charges.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.170 Property Owners to Pay Fees.

The owner of each non-exempt and non-waived parcel shall pay the utility fees and charges as provided in this chapter. Property owners seeking credits or waivers shall pay the full fee until such time that the credit or waiver is granted by the Director, after which reduced fees will be applied.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.180 Billing Procedures and Penalties for Late Payment.

(1)    The charges as herein provided for shall be billed annually, shall be due on or before the 30th day of April, and shall become delinquent thereafter if not paid.

(2)    Collection of delinquencies, interest, penalty, and costs of collection for delinquent utility fees provided for herein shall be charged interest on the delinquent balance at the rate of eight percent (8%) per annum, computed on a monthly basis. A penalty of ten percent (10%) of the fee for the parcel shall be added to charges that are more than six months delinquent. The County shall have a lien for delinquent charges, including interest and penalties thereon, against the real property for which the service charges are calculated as set forth in subsection (3) below. The lien shall be superior to all other liens and encumbrances except general taxes and local and special assessments. The Director may excuse delinquencies of less than thirty (30) days.

(3)    Pursuant to RCW 36.89.065, the County shall have a lien on any parcel with a delinquent account, including interest thereon. Liens shall be effective and shall be enforced in the same manner as provided for sewerage liens of cities and towns by RCW 35.67.200 through 35.67.290, except that the lien shall be effective for a total not to exceed one year’s delinquent fees without the necessity of any writing or recording of the lien with the County auditor, as provided for in RCW 35.67.215, in lieu of the provisions of RCW 35.67.210. In accordance with RCW 36.89.094, the County may commence to foreclose a delinquent account lien after three (3) years from the date the account becomes delinquent, in lieu of the provisions provided for in RCW 36.89.093.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.190 Appeals of Fees.

If an owner of a parcel subject to this chapter, or other responsible party, believes the stormwater service charge is incorrect, the owner may appeal to the Director, requesting a refund, credit, waiver, or exemption and providing such information as the Director may require. The Director may make an adjustment to the charges consistent with professional engineering judgment and with the general policies contained above. Decisions of the Director regarding rate adjustments and appeals shall be final after thirty (30) days of the date the decision was mailed, unless the applicant submits in writing to the Director a notice of appeal setting forth a brief statement of the grounds for appeal and requesting a hearing before the Board of County Commissioners. The decision of the County Commissioners shall be final.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.200 Severability.

If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this chapter is declared invalid or unconstitutional for any reason, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).

12.09.210 Effective Date.

The ordinance codified in this chapter shall go into effect within Yakima County on January 1, 2008.

(Ord. 11-2007 § 1, 2007).