History of the Stormwater Utility Fee
On October 18, 1972, the Federal Water Pollution Act of 1972 was enacted. Better known as the Clean Water Act, it was established "... to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters." This act ensures that residents can be confident that their local communities are working diligently to protect the waters in their area.
Nonpoint source pollution is one of the biggest threats facing the health of our nation's waters. For this reason, the federal government has required that Athens-Clarke County, and hundreds of other towns of similar size all across the country, meet certain guidelines in how to properly manage stormwater. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Municipal Separate Sewer System (MS4) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit System to address nonpoint source pollution. The MS4 stormwater discharge permit establishes guidelines for local governments to minimize pollutants in stormwater runoff to the "...maximum extent practicable."
In 1990, the EPA required large and medium cities (population greater than 100,000) to receive an NPDES Phase I permit. In 1999, the EPA expanded the NPDES permit to Phase II, which included smaller urban areas (population greater than 10,000). Athens-Clarke County received its NPDES Phase II permit under this expansion. This designation required Athens-Clarke County to develop a stormwater management program addressing six key areas: