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Impervious area (e.g., rooftops and paving) is the single most important factor influencing stormwater runoff. Urban and suburban development replaces natural ground surfaces with impervious surfaces, causing more stormwater to run off the land, rather than soak into the soil. Columbia County's stormwater service fee is based on the amount of impervious area on each property. Each 100 square feet of impervious area is billed $0.1775 per month.
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A "threshold" level of service is needed countywide, but a higher level of service is needed in the urban and suburban areas. At this time, the utility's service area encompasses only those unincorporated urban and suburban areas where the immediate needs are greatest. The County will continue to pay for the threshold level of service from general tax revenues.
This map (PDF) shows the "Service Area" that has been defined as the utility service area. Generally, it encompasses Martinez and Evans within the Reed Creek, Jones Creek, Betty's Branch, and Euchee Creek watersheds. This area has been most severely impacted by recent urban and suburban development.
Stormwater has three different billings per year, depending on the amount of the bill.
Important information concerning your Semi-Annually Stormwater bill. Semi-Annually Stormwater bills are for the months of January to June and July to December.
Important information concerning your Annual Stormwater bills. Annual Stormwater bills are for the months of October to September.
If you have any questions regarding your Stormwater bill, please contact our office at 706-447-7645 or by email at Customer Service.
Contact 3-1-1 with pertinent location information. One of our inspectors will inspect the area and get back in touch with the complainant’s provided contact information.
Columbia County E&S Inspection team:
Manager - Mike AndersonInspectors - Steve Abbott, Dennis Anderson,, Tracey Shoemaker, Clayton Whittle, Drew Widmann, Daniel Richardson, Fred Ingram
For more information, email us or 706-447-(SOIL)7645
There are many things that we can all do on a daily basis to reduce water pollution and otherwise improve stormwater quality. We have a series of pamphlets on various topics that we can mail to you. Some of the most important things people can do are very simple, likewise lawn fertilizing and pest treatment practices. Please visit our Pollution Prevention page for more information on how YOU can be a part of the pollution prevention solution.
No. Only wastewater is collected and transported to the treatment plant by the sanitary sewer system. Stormwater flows through the storm sewer systems, ditches, and channels. It empties, untreated, into our streams, ponds, and lakes. It would be much too expensive to size the sanitary sewers and treatment plant to convey and treat stormwater in the same manner as sanitary sewage. The volume of wastewater generated by our homes and businesses each day is insignificant compared to the volume of stormwater runoff generated during a rainstorm. The better solution is to prevent the entry of pollutants into the stormwater system in the first place.
Stormwater runoff is water that flows over our yards, streets, buildings, parking lots, and other surfaces when it rains. It flows into gutters, drainage ditches, storm sewers, and other drains that empty into our streams, ponds, and lakes, which eventually enters the Savannah River. Water pollution is less visible than flooding, erosion, and sedimentation, but it is no less important. A variety of pollutants, such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, motor oil, gasoline, and other industrial chemicals, accumulate on roofs, streets, parking lots, lawns, and other surfaces in urbanized areas and are picked up by stormwater runoff. Sometimes, people even dump paint, antifreeze, or crankcase oil from gasoline and diesel engines into storm drains.
Failing septic tank drain fields allow wastewater containing pathogens and coliform bacteria to discharge onto the ground and into ditches, where it may be swept into streams during and following rainstorms. Even something as common as animal droppings can cause harmful water pollution if they are picked up in stormwater runoff. These pollutants are eventually carried into our local stream, creeks, and lakes. The best way to stop pollutants from entering our valuable water resources is to prevent them from entering the system.
REMINDER: Please remember that previously applied credits expire June 30. Please submit proper inspection documentation to prevent a discontinuation of any credits. if you have any questions, please contact 706-855-7246.
A stormwater credit is a reduction in the monthly stormwater utility service fee. The overall goal of the County is to give a credit to property owners that are reducing the impact of stormwater generated by their property. By reducing the peak discharge of stormwater from their property, through either a retention or detention facility such as a pond, property owners are helping the County protect properties downstream by complying with the Federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements, property owners are helping the County improve water quality. Columbia County is offering two types of credits for this assistance: Peak Flow Reduction Credit (also know as a pond credit) and NPDES Water Quality Credit. The maximum amount of credit available is 50% of the total stormwater utility monthly service fee.
It is the property owner or HOA/POA's responsibility to submit the appropriate Operation and Maintenance Inspection Report (Appendix C-1 or C-2) annually to continue receiving credit. Failure to submit the required information will result in discontinuation of the credit on the next billing cycle.
The Service Fee Credit Manual (PDF) provides guidance on the specific procedures to follow to receive the service credit and which appendix is needed.
If approved, your credit will appear on your next Stormwater Utility bill. If you have been denied, a letter will be sent to you explaining why you have not qualified for the credit. Please email our Customer Service Department or call our office at706-855-RAIN (7246) for additional information.
Urban development in Columbia County has resulted in many problems within the existing stormwater drainage system. Problems such as increased flooding, stream widening and bank erosion, changes in channel beds due to sedimentation, and stormwater quality issues are pervasive throughout the urbanized portions of Columbia County. Coupled with these problems is one of an aging infrastructure. Subdivisions built in the 1970s are seeing significant problems due to issues such as the failure of metal pipe, which has a life expectancy of 25 years.
A comprehensive evaluation of the community's stormwater management needs and opportunities was undertaken starting in 1998. As a result, the Columbia County Board of Commissioners established a Stormwater Management Utility, which commenced billing in October 2000. The Utility provides dedicated funding, enabling the County to initiate comprehensive, watershed-based projects, instead of the existing, largely reactive program.
A sewer (top) is usually located in the middle of the road and has no type of drainage from the road whereas a storm drain is usually located at the curb and water is able to drain into it. A storm drain can also be located at the back of property.
Almost every property discharges some stormwater into the public drainage systems, even if it is not noticeable to you. Properly controlling that stormwater runoff is a very real service to you and other property owners. The County's program will capture and control stormwater runoff so properties like yours are not flooded or otherwise impacted by runoff from other properties.
All properties within the service area are billed to the owner of the property and is based on the impervious surface located on the property as reported by the Tax Assessor's Office. The stormwater service fee is billed on your monthly water and sewer bill. People who do not receive water and sewer services from the County, but own property in the stormwater service area with impervious surface, will receive a "stormwater only" bill. No developed properties will be exempt from the stormwater service charge, regardless of their ownership or tax status.