Stormwater runoff is the most common cause of water pollution. It occurs when rainwater runs off buildings, driveways, roads, sidewalks, and lawns, and as it flows, it collects pollutants such as animal waste, trash sediment, chemicals, grease, and oils and transports them to the municipal storm system which ultimately leads to local rivers and streams without treatment.
NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which is the compliance system for the Clean Water Act. The NPDES permit requires municipalities, like Aiken County, that discharge storm water to the waters of the United States meet minimum federal water quality requirements trough the implementation of six minimum control measures. The six minimum control measures that Aiken County must adhere to are outlined below.
1. Public Education and Outreach
Distribute educational materials and perform outreach to inform citizens about the impacts polluted stormwater runoff discharges can have on water quality.
2. Public Participation/Involvement
Provide opportunities for citizens to participate in program development and implementation.
3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
Develop, implement, and enforce a program to detect and eliminate illicit discharges to the storm sewer system (includes developing a system map and informing the community about hazards associated with illegal discharges and improper disposal of waste).
4. Construction Site Runoff Control
Develop, implement, and enforce an erosion and sediment control program for construction activities.
5. Post-Construction Runoff Control
Develop, implement, and enforce a program to address discharges of post-construction stormwater runoff from new development and redevelopment areas.
6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
Develop and implement a program with the goal of preventing or reducing pollutant runoff from municipal operations. The program must include municipal staff training on pollution prevention measures and techniques (e.g., regular street sweeping, reduction in the use of pesticides, or frequent catch-basin cleaning).
Impervious surface means those improved, harder-surfaced areas that either prevent or inhibit the natural entry of water into the soil. Rooftops, buildings, streets, parking lots, sidewalks, asphalt, concrete, other paving, driveways, gravel, patios, artificial turf and storage areas are all examples of impervious surfaces.
The Stormwater Fee is a fee generated to finance Aiken County’s efforts to first remove and/or eliminate pollutants from the stormwater system before they are able to contaminate our lakes and streams and second meet the guidelines set forth by the EPA and SCDHEC.
The goal of NPDES permitting is to improve and protect the quality of our nation’s waterways by eliminating pollution from stormwater runoff to the maximum extent practicable.
Should the County choose not to comply with the permit, SCDHEC and/or the EPA may issue penalties for willful non-compliance that can reach up to $75,000 per day with each day a separate offense or imprisonment, or both.
An ERU (Equivalent Residential Unit) is the average size of a residential home in Aiken County.
Residential, agricultural, and commercial parcels with improvements are billed $24 annually. Manufacturing properties are charged based on a the commonly accepted rate for stormwater fees know as the Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). This is a descriptive value based on the property's size and the amount of solid surfaces on it, such as parking lots.
The Stormwater Fee is billed in conjunction with yearly real property tax notices. The Stormwater Fee will appear on your real property tax bill and will be collected by the County Treasurer with your property taxes.
Please see information regarding the Stormwater Appeal Process.
No, the stormwater fee is not a tax. It is a fee generated to finance the County's Stormwater Program, which is tasked with the responsibility of minimizing or eliminating pollutants from the County stormwater system.
Water quality affects all residents in Aiken County and therefore, all property owners must pay their fair share of the costs to keep the rivers, lakes, and streams clean
Yes. The pollution potential is actually much greater when it has not rained in a long time because pollutants can build up on all impervious surfaces. In any storm, the initial runoff, or first flush, is the most contaminated. Contrary to what some people believe, stormwater charges are not based upon rainfall. Costs are incurred to reduce pollution. Rainwater is simply the carrier that transports the pollutants to open waterways.
Yes, the County has had storm drains for a long time. However, the federal regulations that require a comprehensive stormwater quality management program are new. The stormwater fee enables the County to meet its responsibility of instituting programs designed to remove and/or eliminate pollutants from the stormwater system before they can contaminate our lakes and streams.
A catch basin is a curbside, box-like receptacle that collects storm water runoff from the street and empties into the underground storm drain pipe which carries the runoff to our lakes and streams.
Yes, currently the County cleans catch basins and storm drains as needed. Under the new stormwater program a regular maintenance schedule will be developed as part of the County’s permit requirement, to insure the stormwater discharges meet SCDHEC quality guidelines.
The County is developing a program to label catch basins. This program will allow civic groups and individuals to label storm drains in their neighborhoods or other areas of concern. If you are interested in helping with this effort please contact the Aiken County Stormwater Manager.
No. They are two separate systems. Wastewater from homes, industry, etc. travels through the sanitary sewer system where it is treated at sewage treatment plants before reuse or discharge into the streams. Runoff from streets, parking lots, yards, etc. enters the storm drain system, receives no treatment, and flows directly to our lakes and streams.
Paint thinner and paint products, motor oil, pesticides, Styrofoam cups, paper, human and animal feces, antifreeze, dirty diapers and dead animals are but a few of the possible pollutants found in stormwater runoff.
The County is developing an ordinance that will address illicit discharges. Enforcement of this ordinance is required as part of the NPDES permit requirements. County officials will be authorized to cite any person or persons caught discharging any illicit materials into a storm drain or waterbody.
The County Stormwater Manager is on hand to take calls or emails reporting stormwater impacts between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. During non-business hours, calls can be made to the Sheriff's Office who will contact the Stormwater Manager to respond to the report.
For questions, please contact the Aiken County Stormwater Manager:
By phone: 803.642.1535
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Engineering - Stormwater Division
Attn: Scottie Hutson, Stormwater Manager
1930 University Parkway, Suite 3300
Aiken, SC 29801