Stormwater Management Services Charge Frequently Asked Questions __________________________________________________ Q. What is stormwater? ♦ Stormwater is rainwater that flows off rooftops, roads, pavements, parklands and other land surfaces. ♦ Stormwater flows overland or through pipes and drains directly into our creeks and rivers. ♦ Stormwater runoff collects and transports pollutants from the Lismore urban area to the Wilsons River. ♦ Pollutants in stormwater include harmful bacteria, sediment, litter and hydrocarbons and if left untreated can pollute our waterways. Q. Who is responsible for stormwater? ♦ Land owners are responsible for the management of stormwater that falls on their own land or naturally runs across their land. This usually involves the owner collecting or redirecting this water in some way. ♦ Once this water is discharged off private land it generally becomes the responsibility of the public system. Council manages this system on behalf of the entire community. ♦ The public system usually means • Council owned easements, • Major drainage channels through the lower areas of Lismore • The roads, including gully pits and footpaths, • The piped drainage system connected to creeks and other water bodies, • The creeks and the rivers themselves, • Devices to improve water quality (such as gross pollutant traps or wetlands). Q. What is the Stormwater Management Services Charge? ♦ The State Government recently amended the Local Government Act to encourage councils to implement a program of major improvements for stormwater management funded by a Stormwater Management Services Charge. ♦ Lismore ratepayers are charged an annual Stormwater Management Services Charge from the 2006/2007 financial year. ♦ This charge will see additional funds dedicated to significant stormwater related projects for the benefit of the local environment, via the Cleaner Waterways program. ♦ This is in addition to funds already allocated in the budget for stormwater projects. ♦ Details of projects funded through the Stormwater Management Services Charge each year and their cost will be reported in Council’s annual report. Stormwater Management Services Charge Frequently Asked Questions __________________________________________________ Q. This is the first I have heard of the Stormwater Management Services Charge. How is Council letting the community know about it? ♦ Council is undertaking an awareness campaign as part of its Stormwater Management Plan. ♦ An information brochure is available from council and has been sent out with the 2007 / 08 rates notice. ♦ Information will also be available via Councils web site. Q. What do I get for my money? ♦ Funds raised by the charge will be allocated to urgent work that will improve the management of stormwater. ♦ Work that will improve stormwater quantity and quality in the local creeks will be conducted across the urban area of Lismore. ♦ Examples of projects to be undertaken using the charge includes • Works to improve stormwater quality, • Installation of systems which capture stormwater for reuse, • Reduction of erosion and sediment from stormwater outlets and along channels, • Remediate and revitalise natural waterways, • Install and maintain devices to trap litter and pollutants, • Monitor water quality and flows, • Community and Industrial education and training. ♦ Current projects include • Reshaping and turfing grass swales, • Headwall repairs and weed management in Rotary Park, • Natural Channel design for part of Browns Creek. ♦ In the future some projects will also collect water that will be used to irrigate parts of the City (eg watering playing fields). This is important, especially at times of drought, as it helps reduce the amount of drinking water being used. Stormwater Management Services Charge Frequently Asked Questions __________________________________________________ Q. How much will I need to pay? ♦ For residential landowners the charge will be • Traditional residential dwelling: $25 • Strata unit: $12.50. ♦ For business premises the charge will be • Business properties up to 4,200m2 area will be charged $25 per 350m2 (see table below) • Business properties exceeding 4,200m2 will be charged a minimum of $300. The area of imperviousness of each property exceeding 4,200m2 will be individually assessed and charged accordingly. Charging regime for business properties Business Property Size No. of Units of 350m2 Charge 0m 2- 350m2 1 $25 351m2 – 700m2 2 $50 701m2 – 1050m2 3 $75 1051m2 – 1400m2 4 $100 1401m2 – 1750m2 5 $125 3851m2 – 4200m2 12 $300 Greater than 4200m2 To be determined by a Subject to the site site assessment of assessment impervious area Q. I am a pensioner – do I get a pensioner discount? ♦ Pensioners are not eligible for a discount on this charge in Lismore. Q. Do any other discounts apply? ♦ Discounts or exemptions apply for business properties where significant stormwater management has taken place on site (see below for further details). ♦ The Stormwater Management Services charge does not apply to vacant land. Land is considered vacant if it has not been developed or covered by slabs of concrete or similar impervious material that will prevent water being absorbed on the site. Stormwater Management Services Charge Frequently Asked Questions __________________________________________________ Q. Do I have a right of appeal? ♦ Residential properties do not have a right of appeal as: a) Residential properties do not have stormwater treatment devices approved under Section 68 of the Local Government Act There is no surety in the maintenance, quality and continued level of operation of the stormwater treatment device b) Implementing a right of appeal to residential properties is not cost effective given the charge is $25.00 ♦ Business properties do have a right of appeal but would need to demonstrate that they can achieve the required criteria by writing to council requesting consideration. Criteria includes: a) Area of imperviousness: Should the area of imperviousness be less than 90% of the total property area, the charge will be based on the area of imperviousness on the property, or b) Stormwater Treatment: A business property with a stormwater treatment device that is approved by Council under Section 68 of the Local Government Act would trigger a 30% reduction in the SMS Charge. Note: Area of Imperviousness includes all hard or compacted surfaces (roofs, driveways, footpaths) which prevents infiltration of water. Note: Section 68 of the Local Government Act is an approval that allows Council to approve and regulate particular stormwater treatment devices to a best practice standard. This approval ensures that the treatment device is effective, appropriately maintained and meeting its prescribed operational standard. Q. I have a private easement on my property and I manage my own stormwater. Why should I pay the charge? ♦ Premises in the urban areas contribute to the damage caused by stormwater when it rains because stormwater is collected on roofs, driveways and landscaped areas before it leaves the premises. ♦ Even when this water is directed to an easement in the first place, it will eventually be directed to the waterways via streets or other urban land and Council must manage the impacts of this concentrated flow. ♦ Council needs to maintain the public system in good working condition to reduce the chances of a blockage that could lead to a private easement overflowing and causing damage on your property. ♦ Council is implementing systems that will improve water quality by removing pollutants collected on premises before it is discharged to the river. ♦ All other concerns can be addressed by a letter to Lismore City Council, PO Box 23A, or by calling the Environmental Health Services on 6625 0569. Stormwater Management Services Charge Frequently Asked Questions __________________________________________________ Q. I own a vacant block of land. Will I pay for that too? ♦ No. Vacant land is exempt from the charge. ♦ Vacant land is land that is not developed or covered by slabs of concrete or similar impervious material that prevents water from being absorbed on the site. ♦ If you are charged for vacant land, you should notify Council. Q. I live in a multi storey unit block. Why does each unit have to pay if our neighbour only pays once? The yard area is the same for both properties. ♦ Traditional single houses tend to have larger areas of yard that can absorb stormwater compared to multi unit housing which tend to have more of the land covered by development (eg. buildings, onsite parking, driveways and garbage storage areas). These areas are often covered in material such as concrete that collects water before discharging it into the public drainage system. ♦ The State Government has set the method of establishing a charge applicable to each type of land. The charge for each residential strata unit has been set at $12.50, which is half the charge for a traditional single house dwelling. Q. Will I only have to pay this once or is it ongoing? ♦ The charge will be an annual charge that Council will reassess each year when the rates are set. There is no plan to increase the charge at this stage. Q. How will I know Council will be using my money for its intended use and not something else? ♦ All additional work undertaken as a result of the Stormwater Management Services charge and funds spent each year will be reported in Council’s annual report. ♦ Works to be completed will be promoted through local media publicity. ♦ When work is being undertaken the sites will be clearly signposted to indicate that the project is being funded through the Stormwater Management Services charge. ♦ Council will be reporting on the implementation of each of the Stormwater Management projects on Council’s web site as work progresses. ♦ Council will also be reporting the works completed each year as part of the Council’s annual report, which is available to the public and submitted to the Department of Local Government. The works actually carried out will be compared with the proposed works and will include a statement explaining any differences. Stormwater Management Services Charge Frequently Asked Questions __________________________________________________ Q. Who looked after the stormwater before? ♦ Council and the State Government manage the existing stormwater using the revenue from your rates and taxes. ♦ However, the State government has recognised that the cost of maintaining the system to properly and safely manage stormwater and flooding is greater than funding available through rates. ♦ The Stormwater Management program will allow Council to speed up improvements to the system to help reduce the potential for flooding from failures or blockages within the system. ♦ Funds will be used to help improve water quality in the local creeks and to reduce the amount of drinking water used to irrigate parks and playing fields. This is especially important during this period of extended drought. Q. What legislation covers this charge? ♦ The Local Government (General) Amendment (Stormwater) Regulation 2006 under the Local Government Act 1993. Q. How does this charge and the proposed works fit with Council’s other plans? ♦ In addition to the funds raised through the Stormwater Management Services Charge, Council is required by the State Government to continue the level of expenditure on stormwater that it has provided in the past. ♦ Additional work to be undertaken as part of the Cleaner Waterways program will be funded via the Stormwater Charge. These are works that Council has identified in the Stormwater Management Plans but did not have sufficient funds to implement. Q. I don’t live near a creek so why do I have to pay? ♦ Most people do not realise that all stormwater flows from their urban area into creeks before eventually getting to the River. ♦ Lismore has 16 major creek systems, called subcatchments in the urban area. Several smaller tributaries flow into these creek systems. ♦ Even if you cannot see a creek there is one nearby helping drain water away from your property. Stormwater Management Services Charge Frequently Asked Questions __________________________________________________ Q. I live near a creek and my property floods all the time when there is a heavy downpour. Will this fix the problem for me? ♦ Many factors influence the impact of flooding on individual properties. The additional works planned under the Cleaner Waterways program are designed to help reduce the impacts of local flooding. ♦ Some works will help improve flows in the creeks and this can reduce the impacts of flooding. However, ultimately the effects of major floods are determined by the intensity of the storm and how well the flood control works have been maintained. Q. How can I get more information? ♦ Ring Lismore City Council, Environmental Health on 6625 0569 ♦ Email Lismore City Council at Council@lismore.nsw.gov.au ♦ Visit Lismore City Council’s website at www.lismore.nsw.gov.au Search ‘stormwater’.