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Frequently Asked Questions

Who Pays for the Program?

Starting in 2007, property owners in Elkhart, Goshen, Bristol, and unincorporated parts of Elkhart County began paying a stormwater management fee. The fee is broken down in the following way:

  • For residential parcels with one to three dwellings, the annual stormwater fee is $15.
  • For residential parcels with four or more dwellings and non-residential parcels, the annual fee is $15 for every 3,600 square feet of impervious or hard surface.

Impervious surface refers to hard surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, and parking lots that cause water to run off, rather than filter into the ground. The amount of impervious surface for each non-residential parcel is based on measurements off of aerial photos.

The stormwater fee applies to all owners of property with impervious surface, including tax-exempt property owners. It appears on the Spring and Fall property tax bills. Tax-exempt property owners receive a bill with a stormwater fee but no real estate tax assessed.

There is also a filing fee for new construction sites that helps to fund the cost of reviewing plans and visiting construction sites (see below).

Read this press release (PDF) for answers to common questions about the Stormwater Fee.

I received my bill for the stormwater fee and I think I'm being charged too much. What do I do?

If you feel there has been an error in billing, you may download and submit the Appeals Form to the SWCD office (address listed on the form). You can also get this form in the mail by calling the SWCD office at 574-533-3630 ext. 3.

Your appeal will be reviewed by the Greater Elkhart County Stormwater Partnership Advisory Board. They will send a written determination by certified mail. If you do not agree with the Advisory Board, you have 15 days to resubmit the appeal, along with any additional supporting information. This will be taken to the stormwater board of the entity where the property is located.

To be timely for the current year, the appeal is due at the time the user fee is due. If you want to discuss your bill prior to filing an appeal, please contact Eric Kurtz (contact information in sidebar on the right).

I've heard the term "MS4." What does this mean?

MS4 stands for "Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems." Basically, the Clean Water Act requires cities and other urbanized areas to manage stormwater runoff in a way that protects clean water. These "MS4 communities" have a list of requirements from public education to development standards to street sweeping. In Elkhart County, the "MS4 communities" named by federal and state law are Elkhart, Goshen, Bristol, and Elkhart County. See our Partnership page for more information.

What is the filing fee for construction sites?

That fee is $100 per disturbed acre, with a flat $100 renewal fee if construction is still on-going at the end of the second year after initial filing.

What are the requirements for construction sites?

Please visit our page For Builders or Developers.

What are the requirements for construction sites that disturb less than one acre of soil?

Individual construction sites that disturb less than an acre but are part of a "larger common plan of development or sale" still have to meet all the requirements of Rule 5, including the submittal process. A common example would be a lot in a subdivision. Typically, for residential lots, the developer submits a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) that covers all of the lots in the subdivision. Builders on each individual lot have to follow that overall plan.

If the developer has not submitted a plan that covers individual lots in a subdivision, then each individual lot owner has to submit a plan for their lot. This happens commonly in commercial and industrial subdivisions.

Another example is when parcels are sold together for the express purpose of development. For example, if 3-acre parcels are sold together with the purpose of building a house on each lot, that is a "larger common plan of development or sale." There should be a SWPPP submittal for the entire area to be developed, or individual submittals for each house as it is built, prior to construction.

Finally, even if construction disturbs less than an acre and is not part of a larger plan, sediment must be prevented from polluting local waterways or causing a problem for neighbors. A SWPPP submittal is not required, but erosion and sediment controls, along with other pollution prevention measures, should be implemented as needed. If you have questions about how to meet the requirements on your specific site or would like technical assistance, please contact Nancy Brown (574-533-4383 ext. 3).