Stormwater Utility

Listen to this episode of the City's Rouss Review podcast (aired June 2022) for an overview of the stormwater utility.

The City of Winchester is implementing a new stormwater utility. See below for an overview of the program, and check back often for updates.

Click here to watch our Stormwater Video Series.


A stormwater utility is being implemented to generate revenue that will be used solely for stormwater-related expenditures. These expenditures can be summarized in three categories:

  • Capital Improvement Projects
  • Maintenance of Stormwater System
  • Regulatory Compliance


  • July 12, 2022 - Council unanimously approved the creation of a stormwater utility at the regular meeting (presented at the 6/14/22 Work Session, first reading held at the 6/28/22 Council Meeting)
  • January 26, 2023 - Improvement projects, maintenance, and regulations discussed at the Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting
  • February 7, 2023 - Potential fees and credits discussed at the Finance Committee meeting
  • Beginning at the March 14, 2023 Council Meeting – Council will continue the discussion of the rate and credit proposal (will take at least two meetings to finalize – earliest the rate could be adopted is the March 28, 2023 meeting)
  • January 1, 2024 - Proposed billing start date

Capital Improvement Projects

Staff identified 75 projects needed to address stormwater issues (flooding, maintenance, and regulatory). Cost estimates were prepared for each project for $176 million (as of February 2023). See the map below for the locations (click to enlarge).

Graphic of stormwater utility projects map showing 75 locations

Project Scoring

All projects were scored using the following ranking criteria (totaling 100 points):

Rank Criteria Max Score Description
# of Properties Affected 10 Score directly correlates to # of properties affected:
0-2 properties = 2
3-10 properties = 4
11-25 properties = 6
26-60 properties = 8
61-105 properties = 10
Damage Reduction 20 Score based on reduction of potential property damages to properties affected during a storm event. Greater reduction of potential damages = higher score.
Risk Reduction 20 Score accounts for reducing potential risks that can be achieved by completing the project. Greater reduction of potential risk = higher score.  Risk is not confined to property damage that may result from flooding. It can also be a risk in maintaining the existing stormwater infrastructure (i.e. steep slopes of a ditch that is dangerous to mow) or pedestrians that are required to walk in a street because there are stormwater ditches and no sidewalks.
Maintenance Requirement 25 Score accounts for improving the maintenance required in the project area, both by the City and the property owner(s). Less frequent and easier maintenance = higher score.
Water Quality Credits 15 Score accounts for a project’s potential to generate water quality credits needed to meet the City’s Chesapeake Bay Nutrient reduction requirements. Greater potential for nutrient reduction = higher score.
Amenity Creation 10 Score accounts for the opportunity for the project to incorporate a new community amenity (i.e. sidewalks, walking trails, restoration/beautification of natural areas) – increased and needed amenities = higher score.

Projects with the highest score would be prioritized above those with a lower score. Smaller projects with the highest score per $100,000 in cost would also be prioritized. 

Project Ranking by Total Score

Project List with Scoring Breakdown

Project Ranking by Score per $100,000

Maintenance Needs

Current stormwater system maintenance is handled by the Public Works Streets Division (10 employees), which is mainly responsible for performing asphalt and concrete maintenance, street sweeping, leaf collection, and snow removal.

Since there is no dedicated crew to maintain the stormwater system, most maintenance work is reactive instead of proactive. Maintenance requirements will increase in the future due to the continued aging of the system and regulatory requirements. Staff has proposed creating a dedicated stormwater crew with six employees in the FY24 budget for maintaining stormwater pipes and inlets and mowing stormwater ponds and ditches.

Regulatory Requirements

Increasingly stringent regulations will require a reduction in nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in stormwater runoff by 2028. Reductions can be achieved in two ways:

  • Construction of stormwater improvement projects which treat stormwater quality
  • Purchase of nutrient credits

Proposed Fees

(As of 2/7/23)

The stormwater fee is based on the total amount of impervious surface area in the city and expected revenue generation. Staff presented three fee options to Council. Each option provided a different level of revenue for infrastructure management and capital projects to improve the city's stormwater system and meet stringent regulations. The initial billing will allow construction on 20 of the highest-rated projects within the first three years. Click here to view the map.

Billing is recommended to start January 1, 2024.

Proposed Cost Options

($/month per 50 sq. ft. of impervious area)

  • Option 1: $0.119 - Pays for:
    • all current operational expenses covered by other funds currently
    • dedicated stormwater maintenance crew
    • purchasing necessary nutrient credits for regulatory compliance
    • 25% of high-priority stormwater capital improvement projects (remaining 75% would come from General Fund – approximately $1.77 million per year – equates to 4.08 cents of property tax revenue)
  • Option 2: $0.153 - Pays for:
    • all items in option 1
    • 50% of high-priority stormwater capital improvement projects (remainder would come from General Fund – approximately $1.18 million per year – equates to 2.72 cents of property tax revenue)
  • Option 3: $0.220 - Pays for:
    • all items in option 1 & 2
    • all high-priority stormwater capital improvement projects (fully self-sustaining enterprise fund)

EXAMPLE of Average Residential Monthly Billed Amount

(Based on 3,200 sq. ft. of impervious surface-estimated average)

  • Option 1: $7.62/month
  • Option 2: $9.79/month
  • Option 3: $14.08/month

NOTE: Each property will be evaluated on its specific impervious area – the above numbers are only based on the residential average.

Click here for more information.

Proposed Stormwater Fee Credits

A maximum of 50% of the property's stormwater fees can be credited each year if certain criteria are met.

Residential Credits

Criteria Residential Credits
Participation in City cleanup events 5% per event
Rain barrel 5% for every 400 sq. ft. of roof area captured
Rain gardens Maximum 35% based on percentage of property impervious area draining to the rain garden
Tree plantings 5% for each tree planted per 3,000 sq. ft. of open space
No Fertilizer Pledge 5%
Septic System disconnection (connect to City's system) 50%
Project partnerships Maximum 50%

All Other Properties Credits

Criteria Non-Residential Credits
Legacy water quality facilities (designed before 7/1/14) Max 10% (minimum required design)
Max 30% (voluntary improvements at least 20% more than required design)
New water quality facilities (designed and approved after 7/1/14) Max. 15% (minimum required design)
Max. 40% (voluntary improvements at least 20% more than required design)
Nutrient Management Plan Max. 10%
Project partnerships Max. 50%
VPDES Industrial Permit (in good standing) Max. 20%

Tasks To Completed

Before fees can be implemented (proposed 1/1/24), the following must be completed:

  • New aerial photography (to be completed spring 2023)
  • Area of impervious surfaces for every property will be determined manually using the aerial photography
  • Set up a utility billing system for the stormwater fee per property
  • Processing stormwater fee credits

Stormwater Utility Documents

Stormwater Video Series

Video 1: Stormwater Utility Explained

Video 2: Stormwater Impervious Area

Video 3: Stormwater Regulatory Requirements

Video 4: Stormwater Capital Improvements