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Stormwater Utility Program

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Frequently Asked Questions

Stormwater_photo courtesy City of Esmo

The Village of Hoffman Estates is changing the way we manage and sustain preservation of the stormwater management system in our community. As a community ages, roads, sidewalks, bridges, water mains, sanitary sewer pipes and stormwater systems all require maintenance and, eventually, replacement. Underground pipes are not as visible as roads but they also require ongoing maintenance to serve our residents.

Because the Village is now more than 50 years old, portions of the stormwater system are beginning to fail. Therefore the Village has committed to improving its stormwater system. Water and sanitary sewer repairs and replacements are funded through a portion of the monthly water bills. One of the first steps the Village is taking towards stormwater system improvement is to evaluate the entire storm sewer system starting in the older sections of the Village to further define the maintenance and replacement needs. The Village is already aware of major corrugated metal culverts that are failing and need replacement.

In order to be able to fund necessary improvements, a stormwater utility fee was adopted by the Village in November 2013 as part of the budget process. The fee became effective March 1, 2014.

These frequently-asked-questions will help to explain the purpose and need for the new stormwater utility program:

What is a storm sewer system?

The storm sewer system consists of concrete and metal sewers, storm drains, manholes, curbs, gutters, ditches, swales, retention and/or detention ponds or basins, dams, manmade channels or storm drains, and flood control facilities which are designed or used for the collection, control, transportation, treatment or discharge of stormwater. The goal of the stormwater management system is convey surface water downstream and to avoid property damage from flooding.

What is impervious area and pervious area?

Impervious area can be any man-made ground cover that prevents or impedes the infiltration of stormwater into the soil. Common impervious areas include rooftops, sidewalks, walkways, patios, driveways, parking lots, storage areas, compacted aggregate and awnings.

Pervious surface areas include undeveloped lands, lawns, gardens, and other forms of vegetative cover allowing runoff to infiltrate the ground surface and flow through the upper soil surface. More infiltration of surface water equals less demand and use of the storm system. Optimally, water can slowly penetrate the Village’s predominate clay barriers to get to the ground water table. 

Why is a Stormwater Utility being created?

The Village has elected to create the stormwater utility for the following reasons:

1. Aging infrastructure: The Village is over 50 years old and has infrastructure that is in dire need of rehabilitation or replacement.
2. Equity: The size of each property determines the amount of stormwater that runs off each property, providing the most equitable way to fund the stormwater program.
3. Competition for funds: As with other infrastructure programs, stormwater program costs can be reasonably and fairly quantified and distributed among users.
4. Mandatory programs: The Village is subject to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permit and is required to implement six minimum control measures as defined by the state and federal government to manage the quality of stormwater runoff.
5. Accountability and transparency: The stormwater utility program is dedicated to funding specific projects, and therefore, residents can see exactly how the Village is using the revenues that are collected. 

What is a “stormwater utility fee?”

The stormwater utility fee provides dedicated revenue to improving the overall system drainage, maintaining the conveyance system such as pipe, swales and culverts, controlling flooding, improving stormwater quality and implementing the Environmental Protection Agency’s stormwater regulations. The stormwater utility fee is charged to each property based on the runoff that would result from that property in a storm event. The fee amount is calculated based on stormwater maintenance and replacement needs. Since every property generates run-off and benefits from the current infrastructure in place, the utility model, used in this method, represents the most equitable way to fund the necessary improvements.

Do other Illinois communities collect stormwater utility fees?

There are at least sixteen other cities in Illinois that have adopted similar fees and the number of communities using a stormwater utility fee is growing. Other communities include: Rantoul, Bloomington, Normal, Champaign, Morton Grove, Rock Island, Moline, East Moline, Downers Grove, Highland Park, Tinley Park, Northbrook, Richton Park, Palatine, Aurora, and Rolling Meadows. Stormwater utility fees for single-family homes range from $1 per month to over $13 per month. The Village collects $2 per month for single-family homes.

Who administers the stormwater program?

The Transportation and Engineering Division with assistance from the Public Works Department manages the administration of the stormwater utility program. Potential projects are identified and plans are developed to address immediate needs. The Capital Improvements Board reviews these and other requests for funding with final authorization to spend funds determined by the Finance Committee and Village Board. The Village’s Public Works Department typically maintains the storm sewer system with larger projects completed using a contractor.

How was the management and operation of our stormwater drainage system funded before this stormwater utility program?

In the past, the Village did not have a dedicated funding source for major stormwater improvements and relied on the Village’s general fund for minor improvements and has on occasion received outside grant funding. The Village intends to continue to apply for grants and will have greater potential to receive outside funding because the stormwater management fee provides the ability for the Village to have matching funds, which is often a prerequisite.

How is the stormwater fee calculated?

The fee is calculated differently for single family homes and townhomes versus all other non-residential property owners.

Single Family and Townhome Residential: The ordinance states that stormwater utility fees for single family/duplex/quads/townhome properties’ are based on the size of the property according to the following tiers:

Lot Size Monthly Fee Annual Fee
Tier One

Up to 7,500 Square Feet



Tier Two 7,501 to 15,000 Square Feet



Tier Three Greater than 15,000 Square Feet



To simplify administration, residential properties were grouped into tiers based on lot size. The number of residential lots in the Village made the calculations enormous. Most residential lots have similar amounts of impervious areas.

Non-Residential property as well as condos and apartments: For non-residential and other properties, the stormwater utility fee is based on the total amount of impervious area. The amount of impervious area on each nonresidential property is calculated using aerial photography. The base rate is $2.00 per month per 3,300 sq. ft. of impervious area which is approximately the same amount for an average single family property. The Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) is the basis for determining the Stormwater Utility Fee for a non-residential parcel. Three thousand three hundred (3,300) square feet of impervious area shall be equal to one (1) ERU. The number of ERUs attributed to nonresidential, condo or apartment parcels are determined by dividing the parcel’s total impervious area (in square feet) by 3,300.

An example calculation of the proposed stormwater utility fee for a non-residential parcel or other property with 25,000 sq. ft. of impervious area is provided below.

25,000 SF × 1 ERU (3,300 SF) = 7.57 ERUs; 
7.57 ERUs * $2/month = $15.14 per month or $181.68/year.

Any nonresidential lot as well as condos and apartments that currently has a detention basin will receive a 25% discount in the fee.

What improvements can I expect to see from the Village’s stormwater utility program?

It’s estimated the Village’s stormwater utility program would generate approximately $500,000 annually. Most funds received through the utility program will be used for the design and construction costs to replace existing deteriorating storm sewers. Administrative expenses will not be paid by the utility program.

When will I receive a bill?

Billing began with the regular March 2014 Village water bill and will continue monthly thereafter.

To whom would I direct technical questions about the stormwater utility fee?

If you have a technical question about the Village’s stormwater utility fee, please contact the Village Engineer at (847) 252-5802 or send an e-mail to

How do I report a drainage problem or damaged storm inlet in my neighborhood?

If a storm drain is damaged or is not working properly and causes water to flood a roadway and/or adjacent area, please call the Public Works Department at (847) 490-6800. The problem may not be fixed immediately, but it will be investigated and any needed modifications prioritized.

Who do I call to report something “illegal” being dumped into a storm water inlet?

If you think something “illegal” has been or is currently being dumped into a storm water inlet, please call 911. Please indicate where the storm water inlet is located, what day and time the dumping has or is occurring, and, if possible, a description of the property, person(s) or vehicle(s) that is either dumping the “illegal” item or from which it is originating.