Stormwater Billing

All properties in the City of Philadelphia are assessed a monthly stormwater charge. This fee recovers the cost the City incurs for managing stormwater. The amount charged for stormwater on a monthly bill depends on the type of property. Select a property type below to learn how the stormwater charge is calculated for that property type.

Property types are based on an individual property’s use and not on its zoning classification. PWD gets property use information from the Office of Property Assessment (OPA).

Residential

The stormwater charge for residential customers is a flat fee based on the average property size and impervious area of residential properties across the city.

Learn more →

Non-Residential

For commercial customers, the cost to manage stormwater is based on the specific square footage of impervious area covering the property and the total square footage of the property.

Learn more →

Condominiums

Condominiums are billed like non-residential properties, based on the specific total and impervious areas of the property, divided equally among all water accounts on the property.

Learn more →

Not sure what type of property you have?

Look it up:

File an appeal

See a problem with your bill? Here’s how to appeal your stormwater charge.

Reduce your charge

Find out if your property is eligible for credits or grants that could lower your bill.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Stormwater Management Service (SWMS) charge?

A SWMS charge is assessed to recover the costs the City incurs in providing stormwater management services to create a healthy living environment and to comply with State and Federal regulations. The City’s annual stormwater management costs exceed $100 Million.

What activities does my stormwater bill fund?

PWD uses revenue generated from stormwater billing to fund a variety of activities including maintenance of the City‟s network of pipes and inlets that convey stormwater and implementing stormwater management and stream restoration projects to reduce combined sewer overflows and pollutant loading to the City‟s streams and waterways.

Is the SWMS charge a tax?

No, the SWMS charge is NOT a tax. The SWMS charge is a utility user fee similar to a water utility charge.

My property is tax exempt. Do I still have to pay the SWMS charge?

Yes, the SWMS charge is a “User Fee” and not a tax. Therefore, all tax exempt properties that are within the City limits are still required to pay a SWMS charge.

What is the basis of my SWMS charge? Is my SWMS charge based on my water consumption?

SWMS charge is NOT based on your monthly water consumption. The SWMS Charge is based on two parameters: the Gross Area square footage and Impervious Area square footage.

For residential properties, the SWMS charge is a flat rate based on the average residential property in Philadelphia.

Is the parcel based SWMS charge a new fee used to increase utility revenues?

No, the SWMS charge is NOT a new user charge, and it does not increase utility revenues. The City’s sewer customers have always paid the SWMS charge as part of their monthly sewer charges. The SWMS charge was previously included in the “Service Charge” portion of your bill. As of July 1, 2010, the method of SWMS charge calculation changed from a meter size-based charge to a parcel area-based charge. Additionally, the SWMS charge assessment is presented as a separate line item in your Water/Sewer/Stormwater Bill.

Why did PWD change the method of SWMS charge assessment?

Historically, PWD calculated SWMS charges based on the size of the water meter(s) located in a property. However, such an approach creates inequity as (i) the size of the water meter bears limited relationship to the volume of stormwater runoff from a property; and (ii) properties such as vacant lots or parking lots without any water meter did not contribute to stormwater cost recovery.

The parcel area-based charge provides a more equitable mechanism for calculating the SWMS charge, which is based on the square footage of Gross Area and Impervious Area. Properties with larger lot size and larger impervious areas will generate more stormwater than properties with smaller lot size and smaller impervious areas. Therefore, the parcel area-based SWMS charge approach establishes a reasonable relationship between the stormwater burden imposed by a property and the calculated SWMS charge.

How is the SWMS charge determined for my property?

For residential properties, the SWMS charge is a flat rate based on the average residential property in Philadelphia.

The average Gross Area for a residential property is 2,110 square feet. The average Impervious Area for a residential property is 1,050 square feet. Based on this average Gross Area and Impervious Area values, a uniform monthly charge has been defined for all residential properties.

Learn more about the residential stormwater charge →

For non-residential and condominium properties, the SWMS charge is the sum of two components: a Gross Area charge and an Impervious area charge. The City has established a stormwater rate schedule with a GA and IA rate per 500 square feet.

Learn more about the non-residential stormwater charge →

What is Gross Area (GA)?

Gross Area refers to all of the property area contained within the legally described boundaries of a property and does not include portions of sidewalk that are in the public Right-of-Way. In other words, GA refers to the total lot size of a property.

What is Impervious Area (IA)?

Impervious Area means the total square feet of any surfaces on the property which are compacted or are covered with material that restricts infiltration of water, including semi-pervious surfaces such as compacted clay, most conventionally hard-scaped surfaces such as streets, driveways, roofs, sidewalks, parking lots, attached and detached structures, and other similar surfaces.

How is Impervious Area determined for my property?

For properties with a lot size of 5,000 square feet or greater, the IA is determined through the City’s Geographic Information System (GIS) software and aerial images of the property.

If the property is less than 5,000 square feet and undeveloped, then the impervious area is estimated as 25% of the total area.

If the property is less than 5,000 square feet and developed, then the impervious area is estimated as 85% of the total area of the property.

Why is PWD rounding up when calculating the units of impervious area and gross area?

Per PWD Regulations, Section 304.3, the GA Factor and IA Factor are determined by dividing the GA and IA of a property by 500, and then rounding up to the next whole unit. Please see Appendix A for example SWMS charge calculations. Since it is not feasible to determine Impervious Area with exact precision, the rounding up approach neutralizes any minor measurement variances among parcels.

How is the SWMS charge billed for my property?

If your property has water and/or sewer accounts, then the SWMS charge is assessed as a separate line item in your water/sewer monthly bill. However, if your property does not have a water and/or sewer account, then you will receive a water bill with just the SWMS charge.

Is there any minimum SWMS charge for a non-residential property?

Yes, please see PWD Regulations Section 304 for more information concerning the minimum charge.

How is the SWMS charge assessed if I have multiple water accounts on my property?

The monthly SWMS charge is equally apportioned among all the water accounts that exist on your property.

For example, if a residential property has two water/sewer accounts, then each water/sewer account is assigned 50% of the uniform monthly SWMS charge.

If a non-residential property has four water/sewer accounts, then each water/sewer account will be assigned 25% of the total monthly SWMS charge. If that value is less than the Minimum Charge, then the minimum will apply.

If there are multiple water accounts on my property, can I request a specific allocation of SWMS charges among the water accounts?

Yes, if you would like a custom allocation of the SWMS charge among the accounts located on your property, you can request a specific distribution by filing FORM A-1 “Revised Charge Allocation” Application. However, the sum of the SWMS charge distributions should equal the total SWMS charge determined for that property.

Stormwater from my property drains directly to a stream or river. Will I still be assessed a parcel-based charge?

Yes, maintenance of streams and rivers within City limits is also the responsibility of PWD. Unmanaged stormwater from impervious surfaces causes stream bank and stream channel erosion and degrades water quality by introducing pollutants into streams. Since the City obtains its drinking water from the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, upgrading stormwater systems is a key aspect of protecting the City’s drinking water supply. Federal mandates also require PWD to improve stream quality to comply with the Clean Water Act. Addressing these issues requires a large financial investment to fund stream and watershed studies, stream restoration projects, and stormwater management projects. PWD has already implemented a number of these projects and will be accelerating these programs in future years.

However, non-residential properties that drain directly to a stream or river may be eligible for a Direct Discharge credit that could reduce your stormwater charge.

Learn more about Stormwater Credits →

How will the water, sewer, and stormwater charges be accounted if I only pay a portion of my bill and not the entire bill amount?

When you make a payment (whether a partial amount or a full amount), your payment will be posted to the appropriate service in the following order:

  1. Penalties and Interest (if any)
  2. SWMS charge
  3. Sewer charge
  4. Water charge

What is my recourse if I receive a SWMS charge for a property I do not own?

If you are a tenant who is responsible for water and sewer charges, then you are also responsible for SWMS charges. However, if you are not a tenant and do not own the property, then you can submit a stormwater appeal using FORM A – “Stormwater Management Service Charge Adjustment Appeal Application” to get the issue resolved.

What are the conditions under which I can dispute the SWMS charge?

Per PWD‟s stormwater appeals policies, customers can submit a stormwater appeal using FORM A – “Adjustment Appeal Application” for any one of the following reasons:

  •  Incorrect Parcel
  •  Inaccurate Property Classification
  •  Residential Sideyard

I am a residential property owner and I received a bill for my garage lot. Is this a mistake?

This is not a mistake. If the garage that you own is on a separate deed/tax parcel that is not a part of your residential parcel, then you will receive a separate stormwater fee for the garage parcel. However, your garage may qualify for a sideyard exemption if it is adjacent to your residential parcel, and if your residential parcel and the adjacent garage or sideyard parcels are deeded under the same ownership.

If you believe your garage would qualify as a sideyard, you can submit a stormwater appeal using FORM A – “Adjustment Appeal Application”.

The information you have on my parcel is not correct. How can this be fixed?

Please fill out an Appeals Form using FORM A – “Stormwater Management Service Charge Adjustment Appeal Application” to let us know how our information about their parcel is inaccurate.

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