The City of Key West, Florida

The Southernmost City in th Continental United States


Stormwater FAQ


What is a Stormwater Utility?
A Stormwater Utility is a service unit within the City government which generates revenues through fees. The stormwater utility is responsible for funding the planning, operation, construction and maintenance of stormwater systems.  The utility generates its revenue through user fees. The fee is based on the amount of stormwater a particular parcel passes to the stormwater system (which starts at the sidewalk or property line.)  The more runoff a parcel contributes(for non-residential units), the greater the fee.

How much is the service fee?

Each single-family parcel is charged based on an average residential units.  ERU's were developed by field verification of open space and impervious surfaces on an average home lot and the costs of the utility equally distributed to the parcels.  As of January 1, 2009 it is $7.35 per month. 

Commercial units are based on how many Equivalent Residential Units (ERU's) there are on the parcel 

An ERU is a unit of measure which serves as an index to compare the rainwater (stormwater) runoff generated by different size properties with different amounts of impervious surface. Impervious surface is a surface that will not allow water to pass through to the soil. Rooftops, driveways, parking lots and pools are typical examples of impervious surface.

The service fee, which is not a tax,  is billed with the other city utilities monthly.

What are the problems with Stormwater?

Pollution is carried in rainwater.  When it rains all the rainwater that is not absorbed into the ground (or evaporated) carries any contaminants that may be distributed on lawns, streets, roofs, and parking lots and straight to the waters surrounding the island either directly over the beaches or street ends or through pipes or wells.  Pollution reduction and treatment is needed to reduce the amount of contamination flowing into thenearshore waters in which we swim and fish. 

Reducing the amount of water in the streets was the original use of stormwater piping.  Because of rigorous design standards, the Clean Water Act, and state and local codes we are required to reduce the pollutant load to our waters, which are the best in the state categorized as "Outstanding Florida Waters".  Therefore our stormwater program is now two-fold, with the goal of reducing flooding and standing water as well as reducing the amount of pollutants getting to the system and then treating the contaminates that do enter the system.        

The City's Generic Permit for Discharge of Stormwater from Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4 GP) contains a five-year plan indicating how the city will comply with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).  As of January 15, 2005the City was required to operate under this permit. 

The requirements for NPDES are stringent and therefore there is a strong emphasis on education and public participation throughout the initial five years. The goal of the program, which stems from the Clean Water Act of 1972, is to eliminate pollutant discharges into American waters.    


The City immediately took action to implement the elements outlined in the plan.  Although the city has taken great strides in recent years to reduce illicit discharges, we welcome this opportunity to further develop systems and educational elements that will improve our Outstanding Florida Waters.  Highlights of the program are:

  • Public education and outreach;
  • Public participation in ordinance revisions and clean-ups;
  • Detection and elimination of illicit discharges through inspection and codes;
  • Construction site best management practice ordinance and inspection;
  • Private property infrastructure inspection and maintenance requirements
  • Municipal operation pollution prevention and good housekeeping.

Each element of the permit has measurable goals and schedules for implementation.