Stormwater Management Services Charge Frequently Asked Questions

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					        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
♦   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

♦   Council is undertaking an awareness campaign as part of its Stormwater Management
♦   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
           • 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
    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

♦   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
♦   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
        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
♦   Visit Lismore City Council’s website at
    Search ‘stormwater’.

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