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Water Quality Fees, Credits & Incentives
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Water Quality Fees, Credits & Incentives

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3675196894 3b754df6e5Water Quality Fee and
Credits & Incentives

The Credits and Incentives program provides a coordinated and balanced framework of fees, incentives, and credits for the development community and non-residential property owners to encourage increased water quality management.



New Credits & Incentives Applicability Chart


Credit & Incentive Applicability Chart


Appeals for Correction, Exemption or Partial Exemption of Water Quality Fees



See the FAQ for the Water Quality Fee at the bottom of the page.   


Map of Impervious Areas: Zoom in to see your parcel's impervious area.  




Credits & Incentives

For information on the Current Credit Program (effective December 1, 2014) see the Credits & Incentive Manual or the Credits & Incentives section on the Resouce:RAIN page.  We are updating this site now so expect regular changes. 



The information below is referencing the credit program that is in effect until December 1, 2015.  



Water Quality Fees and Credits information through December 1st, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Water Quality Fee?

A: Previously known as "Storm Water Fee", the Water Quality Fee is a user Fee and not a Tax. The Water Quality Fee covers the costs to manage the City Water Quality Program responsible for reducing stormwater runoff pollutants.  This Fee also used to maintain the City stormwater sewer system, which is separated from the sanitary sewer system.  The Fee was levied in 1993.  There has been no increase in the Fee since 1993.

Q: Why Charge a Water Quality Fee?

A: In compliance with Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977 and in compliance with the provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 as amended by the Water Quality Act of 1987, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) requires that the City of Chattanooga implement a storm water management program. It is the intent of the City of Chattanooga that the costs of operation, maintenance, and improvement of the City stormwater system are borne by the users of the system in relation to their contributions of water quality to the system.  Storm water user fee is authorized under TCA 68-221-1107.

Q: Why is Stormwater a Problem?

A: Stormwater flows off impervious surface (buildings, parking lots, driveways, and streets) picking up trash and pollutants before entering storm drains that discharge through the City stormwater system into our local streams and river.

Q: How was the previous Fee Calculated?

A: The previous rate structure methodology was based on the "estimated" amount of impervious area for each property based on the land use information contained in the property tax record database and presumed quality of that runoff based upon its zoning classification which is called the "intensity development factor" or "IDF." The previous annual rate for residential properties of one or two units and 10,000 square feet or less was $24 and for more than 10,000 square feet was $36.  The rates for all other properties were based upon an established rate times the lot area in square feet.  The rate for multi-family residential was $0.00576;for industrial was $0.0072; for commercial was $0.00816; for institutional was $0.0048; for transportation, communication and utility was $0.00672; for recreational was $0.00048; for agricultural was $0.000384 and for vacant property was $0.000192.

Q: How is the new Fee Calculated?

A: The new impervious area method calculates actual impervious surface for multi-family residential (apartments) and non-residential parcels based on aerial photography.  The impervious area method is used by a majority of storm water utility user fee programs across the United States.  The impervious area includes buildings, rooftops, driveways (paved or gravel), parking lots (paved or gravel) and sidewalks (paved or gravel). Single and two-family residential impervious area is estimated to be 3,200 square feet based on 396 random samples (of single and two-family parcels) measured. This average residential impervious area (3,200 square feet) would be known as Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU).  Each multi-family residential (apartments) and non-residential having impervious area would be assigned at least one ERU (rounded according to mathematical convention). A flat charge of 1 ERU will apply to all single and two-family residential parcels and each condominium unit.  See examples at end of this document.

Q: Are there any exemptions?

A: TCA 68-221-1107 provides Exemption for users that do not discharge into a municipal stormwater system.

Q: Are there any credits?

A: Yes.  Upon submitting an application with supporting documents, multi-family and non-residential users with 3 ERUs or more maybe qualified to receive up to 85% in Water Quality Fee reduction. The Fee reduction is provided for facilities with enhanced water quantity and quality controls measures.

What are the services that are provided with the Water Quality Fee?

In 1996, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued the City of Chattanooga a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that contains more than 131 requirements such as detailed mapping and maintenance of the stormwater system, implementation of illicit discharge elimination program, industrial facilities inspection and monitoring, construction activities permitting and inspection, municipal facilities monitoring, stormwater runoff and stream sampling.

Additional regulatory needs require additional resources for the City to meet its NPDES permit obligations.  In addition to the NPDES permit requirements, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation issued the City of Chattanooga, in 2006, a new federal unfunded requirement known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) requiring the City to conduct additional stream sampling and developing new programs to reduce stream habitat alteration, and pathogens and sedimentation loadings into our streams.

Q: Who gets the bill?

A: The property owner is responsible to pay the Water Quality Fee.  The Water Quality Fee is assessed on the property owner tax bill.

Q: What additional services are provided?

A: To comply with state regulations, existing water quality programs need to be expanded and additional programs need to be implemented.  Such programs would include, stream assessment and restoration, stormwater retrofitting, and sanitary sewer discharge detection and elimination.  In addition to regulatory requirements, stormwater drainage system maintenance and flooding management services would be increased to include flood mapping and drainage system upgrade.

Q: How will the fee benefit me?

A: The fee will be used to reduce and prevent pollution, provide guidance for construction and industrial activities, and control flooding through constructing, cleaning and maintaining stormwater infrastructures (i.e. roadways, inlets, pipes, ditches, detention facilities).


a)    For Single and Two-Family Residential Parcels

Each single or two-family residential property is equals to one residential unit (1 ERU).  The Water Quality fee for these residential properties is $115.20 per year.

b)    For Multi-Family Residential (Condos)

Each Condo unit will be assigned 1 ERU.  The Water Quality fee for these residential properties is $115.20 per year.

c)    For Multi-Family Residential (Apartments) and Non-Residential Parcels

Step 1: Assume an impervious area of 100,000 sq. ft.

Step 2: Divide 100,000 sq. ft. by 3,200 sq. ft. (1 ERU) = 31.25 ERUs

Step 3: Round down (or up) using standard mathematical rounding = 31 ERUs

Step 4: Multiply 31 by $115.20 = $3,571.20






Mailing Address

1250 Market Street, Suite 2100

Chattanooga, TN 37402

Attn: Water Quality Fee


       Back to Water Quality Home

To preserve and enhance the quality of the physical environment and infrastructure through prompt, cost effective and courteous delivery of services which protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens.

Justin Holland, Administrator
1250 Market Street!
Chattanooga TN 37402 (map)
(423) 643-6311


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