The Stormwater Utility was established in 2001 to maintain the City’s storm water infrastructure, properly manage the environmental impact of storm water pollution and to provide adequate flood protection. Funding for these programs is not supported by tax money but by a user fee. Unlike a tax which is based on assessed value, the storm water fee is based on a property’s impervious area or storm water impact. A property that has a lot of paved surfaces/roofs and little green space (plants & grass) has a larger impact on the storm system and contributes a significant amount of pollutants to the storm water in comparison to a property with a lot of green space and a small amount of paved surfaces. Revenues generated from the user fee are placed in a dedicated fund to implement a stormwater program that directly supports maintenance and upgrades of existing storm drain systems, street sweeping & leaf collection, maintenance of storm water basins, development of flood & pollution control measures, and support water quality programs that service the users.
A stormwater utility generates funding through user fees that are typically based on the impervious surfaces (e.g., roofs, roads, driveways, parking lots) of each property within the stormwater utility district. Stormwater Utility fees are assigned to all developed residential and non-residential properties. Fees are determined as a function of equivalent residential units (ERU). The value of one ERU is set at 2700 square feet. For purposes of imposing the stormwater charges, all lots and parcels within the City are classified into the following 5 customer classes:
2015 Monthly ERU Storm Water Fee = $7.33 ($88 annually per 1 ERU)
| (a) Residential Single Family
| (b) Residential two family or four family
| (c) Residential condominiums
||The numerical factor obtained by dividing the
total square footage of impervious area of the
property by the square footage of one ERU and
divide by the number of dwelling units.
| (d) Nonresidential
||Square foot of impervious area (as measured off
plan or aerial photo)/2700 square feet
Most of the storm water collected in the City enters Lake Michigan through a series of storm water outfalls. Pollutants such as grass clippings, road salt, pet waste, oil, pesticides and detergents enter the storm sewer after a rain or snow event and are discharged directly into Lake Michigan. Businesses and residents can help prevent pollutants from entering the storm water by:
- Wash your car on the lawn or at the car wash.
- Pick up and dispose of pet waste by placing it in a bag and putting it in the garbage.
- Dispose of household hazardous waste at designated sites
- Reduce fertilizer and weed control use
- Mow your lawn as to keep the grass clippings out of the street and gutter
- Keep leaf piles several feet away from inlet grates
- Never dump or stockpile dirt or wood chips in the street.
Wisconsin winters require an effective and affordable means of de-icing roadways, sidewalks & parking lots. The primary agent used for this purpose is sodium chloride (road salt), which is composed of 40 percent sodium ions (Na+) and 60 percent chloride ions (Cl-). Other agents containing chlorides are also used when temperatures fall below 18 degrees.The sodium, chlorides, and other agents make their way into one of Wisconsin’s greatest fresh water resources, Lake Michigan, through runoff from rain, and melting snow and ice. Chloride is completely soluble and there is no natural process by which chlorides are broken down, metabolized, taken up, or removed from the environment. It can be diluted but once in solution – always in solution. So once in Lake Michigan – always in Lake Michigan. Did we mention that Cudahy along with several Lake Michigan communities rely on Lake Michigan for its drinking water?
In small amounts Sodium and Chloride can be tolerated by most humans, but in larger quantities like the water from the ocean – it cannot. The Cudahy Common Council and Board of Public Works understand the impacts that de-icing chemicals have on Lake Michigan and the environmental, In an effort to minimize the impact, the City instituted a low road-salt/non-bare pavement policy. In the past six years, the Department of Public Works has been calibrating equipment, implementing new equipment and techniques to reduce the overall use of de-icing chemicals in an effort to balance safety and environmental concerns. Each storm is strategically analyzed as how much to put down, where and when. Driver training has also been critical in where and how much to put down. Over the last several years the City has not seen an increase in crashes and has noticed that Cudahy streets are no worse than those of our surrounding neighbors. In 2014 when the State of Wisconsin and many Counties and communities ran out of salt, Cudahy had a few tons left at the end of the season. We believe that the policy and the Department’s strategic de-icing plan allowed the City to reduce the use of road salt by as much as 30%.