Stormwater Utility Home Page

** Stormwater bills were most recently mailed in January 2019, and will be mailed again in January 2020 (the fee covers the town's fiscal year of July 1 through June 30). A 1% penalty is added monthly to delinquent accounts.  Learn more by visiting the payment options page. Information about the fee structure can be found below.  
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Stormwater management is important both because of what stormwater carries and how fast it moves. Water has tremendous power and can cause erosion, property and roadway damage, river bank instability, and other safety concerns when moving quickly. However, the primary concern is that when rain falls and water rushes off of our roads and driveways, it also picks up oils, debris, bacteria, and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus naturally found in soils. This stormwater carries these pollutants to our streams and rivers, which all drain to Lake Champlain.

These nutrients accumulate and can cause cyanobacteria, algae blooms, and threaten the quality of our water bodies. Numerous waterways in our community are considered impaired by the State of Vermont, by sediment, bacteria, phosphorus, or chloride, and as a result the town has millions of dollars worth of required investments to make in our stormwater system to ensure we are not contributing to water quality impairments.

The Town of Colchester adopted a stormwater utility effective July 1, 2017 to better address our community's water quality needs. The utility's budget, planned projects, fee credits, and educational information can be found in the links to the left. Under a utility structure, funds are collected from all property owners, including those that are tax exempt, through annual fees billed in January.

Utility fees have three tiers:

Base Fee: This is the minimum utility fee of $52.00, paid by single family, duplex, and triplex properties, as well as vacant or undeveloped sites. This fee is based on the average amount of impervious surfaces on these types of properties, which is one-tenth acre.

Base Fee Capped: These are properties in the above category that have more than one acre of impervious surface onsite. Their fee is "capped" at one acre, which is $520.00 (10x the fee for one-tenth acre).

Directly Assessed: These are commercial, educational, institutional, industrial, or other developed properties who pay $52 per tenth-acre of impervious surface onsite. Properties in this fee category are eligible to apply for fee credits up to 50% of the site's fee (learn more about fee credits).

Impervious surfaces are areas that cover the natural ground and do not allow for easy infiltration of rainfall; they include any paved areas (driveways, sidewalks, parking areas, roads, buildings) and dirt, gravel, or other compacted areas (parking areas, roads).

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

The Town does not currently test for blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) as the Department of Health tests weekly at Bayside Park and other locations. Visit the Department of Health website to view their interactive map.  Select "Colchester" from the dropdown menu to see current testing results.  

If you have questions about the stormwater utility that are not answered by this website, please contact Karen Adams.

Colchester Water Quality Hotline: 802-264-5628

Karen water quality sampling

​​View a short video that was developed by Town Staff explaining the utility. 

An example of erosion around a Town-owned culvert.

Erosion around culvert
The following activities are funded by stormwater fees:
  • Repair, replacement, and construction of stormwater and drainage improvements town-wide
  • Water quality sampling at 9 locations around town, twice weekly -results are posted online weekly
  • Street sweeping, catch basin cleaning, and all other regular system maintenance
  • Planning studies to scope improvements for areas in town in need of upgrades or retrofits
  • Education and outreach activities, including 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)

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

SHC-18 8

Town employees performing repairs on a catch basin in a Colchester neighborhood.

Town Employees performing repairs on a catch basin.