Stormwater Utility

The Town of Colchester adopted a stormwater utility effective July 1, 2017. This page contains utility information including utility FAQs and activities, the program budget, information for property owners about how to manage stormwater on their property, and links to partner sites and projects.​

​Here are links to the Town's Stormwater Ordinance, Credit Fee Manual, and a presentation about the utility.

​Protecting water quality must be important to all property owners – poor water quality negatively impacts economic vitality, property values, tourism and recreation opportunities, drinking water sources, and our wildlife.

Stormwater Utility Basics:

What: In April 2017, the Selectboard approved the adoption of a stormwater utility. Previously, the Town’s stormwater program including all maintenance activities was funded through property taxes with a budget of approximately $540,000. Under a utility structure, funds will no longer be collected through property taxes but through a separate stormwater fee collection process, for which bills will be sent to property owners in January 2018.

​​How: Residential property owners of single family, duplex, and triplex homes, and owners of vacant property, will pay a flat fee of $52.39. All other property owners, including commercial, institutional, and tax-exempt properties, will pay a fee based on the amount of impervious surfaces on their site. Impervious surfaces are areas that cover the natural ground and do not allow for the infiltration of rainfall; they include any paved areas (driveways, sidewalks, parking areas, roads, buildings) and some dirt or gravel areas (parking areas, roads).​

Why: Our community has seen the effects of fast-moving water, with many homes and seasonal properties becoming heavily damaged during Tropical Storm Irene. Water has tremendous power and can cause erosion, property and roadway damage, bank instability, and other safety concerns when moving quickly. When rain falls and water rushes off of our roads and driveways it also picks up oils, debris, and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus naturally found in soils. Because our stormwater discharges to Lake Champlain, these nutrients accumulate and can cause cyanobacteria, algae blooms, and threaten the quality of our water bodies.

Below is a large culvert helping to direct stormwater to the Lake. This one is located underneath the Town's bike path.

Bike Path Culvert
To talk with Town Staff about the Stormwater Utility, please contact Karen Adams, Technical Services Manager, at 801-264-5621 or by e-mail at kadams@colchestervt.gov

Town Staff taking a water sample for e.coli testing.

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Town Staff preparing to take water quality samples from Smith Hollow Creek.

Karen water quality sampling

​Changing to a utility structure allows the collection of fees from tax-exempt property owners, such as the State of Vermont, St. Michael’s College, and Camp Johnson amounting to approx. $145,000. In addition, new and enhanced permitting requirements adopted or soon to be adopted by the state will increase the Town’s responsibilities in planning for and maintaining our stormwater facilities. ​ ​​
​Are you interested in seeing how the adoption of a utility will affect your property? Please click here to view the Searchable User Cost Database that shows how costs will change for 2018.

Note - For best results, we recommend downloading the database, and opening it in Adobe Acrobat Reader or another PDF viewer, rather than within your web browser. Acrobat Reader is available for free download for most platforms here.​

​A short video was also developed by Town Staff explaining the utility. Please Click Here to view that LCATV segment.

An example of erosion around a Town-owned culvert.

Erosion around culvert
The following activities are funded by stormwater fees:
  • Street sweeping, catch basin cleaning, and all other regular system maintenance
  • Water quality sampling at 9 locations around town, twice weekly - results are posted online weekly here
  • Repair, replacement, and construction of stormwater and drainage improvements town-wide
  • Planning studies to scope improvements for areas in town in need of upgrades or retrofits
  • Education and outreach activities, including participation in a regional group called "ReThink Runoff"
  • Review of development projects for water quality impacts and stormwater management design
  • Compliance with state permitting requirements (the Town's MS4 permit alone costs over $20,000 annually!)
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Town employees performing repairs on a catch basin in a Colchester neighborhood.

Town Employees performing repairs on a catch basin.