FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when it rains?

Rainwater runs across impervious surfaces (parking lots, roofs, streets, etc.) and collects in the City’s storm sewers. Most of this water then travels directly into our streams and rivers. Occasionally, excess rainwater overwhelms the storm sewers, or these facilities fail to function as designed. The water then floods into our homes, businesses and streets. In some locations (depending on the age and design of the storm and sanitary sewers) rainwater may overflow out of the storm sewer system and into an adjacent sanitary sewer system. These excess flows are sometimes discharged directly into the watershed.

What are the benefits of stormwater management?

By enacting stormwater management, we will comply with Federal and State requirements. This also means that we will improve the water quality in our urban watershed. Other benefits may include flood control, a significant reduction in pollution caused by surcharged sanitary sewers, improved watershed planning, public education and the improved maintenance, repair and expansion of our storm water collection system.

What is a storm water utility fee?

A storm water utility fee is the result of unfunded USEPA mandates on storm water discharge. This fee is used to finance annual compliance with the NPDES permitting standards. This fee is similar to a water or sewer fee. In essence, customers pay a fee to convey storm water from their properties. 

Why do I have to pay a stormwater fee?

As a resident of the Bluefield Watershed, we all contribute to stormwater runoff during precipitation events. Since we all contribute, we all must pay a fair share to fund programs which allow for education, infrastructure maintenance, and pollutant removal from our local streams and creeks.

What is NPDES?

NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which is the compliance system for the Clean Water Act. NPDES requires that all storm water discharges that enter waters of the United States must meet minimum federal water quality requirements.

How is the Stormwater Utility fee collected?

The stormwater fee is included as a separate item on the bill for city fees which also includes street fee, fire fee and garbage fee. It is due each month. For further information click here

Is the storm water utility fee considered a tax?

No, the storm water utility fee is not a tax. It is a fee generated to maintain the storm water utility system and fund the NPDES permit compliance. It is user based and dependent on the contribution to the storm sewer system. 

Is this a City tax?

Absolutely not. This is a stormwater system user fee which can only be applied towards meeting WV Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) Stormwater Permit requirements.  

What is the City of Bluefield doing about illegal dumping into the storm drains?

There is an ordinance in the process of being drawn up that addresses dumping and litter. Enforcement of this ordinance is part of the City of Bluefield’s Phase II permit requirements. Code enforcement officers are authorized to cite any person or persons caught illegally dumping any material other than rainwater into a storm drain. 

What is my stormwater fee based on?

All residential properties are charged a flat rate fee. Commercial property fees are based on the amount of impervious surface of the property.

Who is exempt from paying stormwater fees?

 Nobody, everyone who owns property within the City's Watershed must pay for their share of the stormwater contribution.

What is a "Watershed"?

The area that contributes surface water runoff into a tributary system or water course.

How does street sweeping affect stormwater?

By keeping our streets clean, pollutants such as leaked oil, gravels, and trash do not have the chance of washing down our drains and polluting our local streams and creeks.

Where can I get a copy of the City's Stormwater Ordinance?

To receive a cope of the City's Stormwater Ordinance please click here.