Stormwater Protection Program

Almost any time that it rains or snows, stormwater runoff is created.  Much of this runoff is caused by impervious surfaces (pavement, roofs, sidewalks, etc.) that prevent water from soaking into the ground.  The more impervious surfaces, the greater the amount of runoff that is generated.  This runoff picks up trash, oil, sediment, and other pollutants and carries them into the City’s storm drainage system.  The pollutants are discharged into the Antietam and Conococheague Creeks, and continue downstream to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.

The Stormwater Protection Program covers all aspects of storm drainage and stormwater management networks in the City that convey or treat this runoff.  This program is funded by the Stormwater Utility Fee which is charged to each property that has more than 500 square feet of impervious area.

The two videos below illustrate the challenges of maintaining the City’s storm drainage system, and the need for the Stormwater Utility Fee:

Watch video below to learn about the issues with the required improvements to the Storm Water Management Program starting in 2021.

Watch video below to learn about the recommendations to pay for and implement required improvements to the Storm Water Management Program.

Why is a Stormwater Utility Fee required?

The stormwater utility fee funds the maintenance and repair of the City’s storm drainage system; this is a network of over 100 miles of pipes and arch drains, 2,800 catch basins and drainage inlets, and 800 manholes that collects storm runoff and carries it through the City to several discharge points.  The oldest parts of the system are more than 100 years old, and need to be inspected and repaired on a regular basis.  The Stormwater Protection Program also funds the City’s street sweeping operations, which collect and remove trash and pollutants before they can enter the storm drainage system.  Also, as of May 29, 2020, property owners are no longer responsible for repairing deteriorated curbs and sidewalks along their properties; the City will use some of the stormwater fee revenue to compete these repairs.

In addition, the City also has to comply with its stormwater permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment.  That permit, among other things, requires the City to provide water quality treatment for 20% of the impervious area in the City that isn’t already being treated (roughly 300 acres of area).  To meet this requirement, the City must retrofit existing stormwater ponds (or construct new facilities) to provide water quality improvements.  The estimated cost to meet this requirement is expected to exceed $10 million.

How is the Stormwater Utility Fee calculated?

Since a stormwater utility is a fee for service, all properties are charged regardless of their tax status.  The amount of impervious area on each property was measured using high resolution aerial photographs.  The City has created a viewer that residents can use to see the impervious area that was captured on each property; users should understand the impervious areas captured from the photographs are approximate, and that the impervious area shading in the viewer may not perfectly align with the aerial photograph.  Click the link below to access the viewer:

Stormwater Utility Viewer

In Hagerstown, properties are charged in increments of 1,000 square feet of impervious area.  These are called “billing units”.  Fractions are rounded to the nearest whole number.  For example, the property below results in two billing units.  The number of billing units is then multiplied by the rate set by the City Council.

Fee calculation exhibit

Please note that impervious area associated with a public street, alley, or public sidewalks along the street is not counted against a property's total.  A property with less than 500 square feet of impervious area results in zero billing units, and is therefore not assessed a fee.

The current annual rate set by the City Council, as of January 1, 2023, is $36/billing unit; the total annual fee is then divided by the number of utility billing cycles assigned to each property (either four for quarterly customers, or twelve for monthly customers).

Can I reduce my Stormwater Utility Bill?

Property owners may be able to reduce their stormwater utility bill by removing unneeded impervious surfaces from their property, by taking credit for existing stormwater treatment facilities that serve the property, or by installing new treatment facilities.

Reducing impervious area may be accomplished by removing unused structures like garages or storage sheds, replacing impervious driveways and parking areas with permeable pavers, or permanently removing pavement or parking pads that aren’t needed.  Once these areas are converted into permeable surfaces that will absorb rainfall, they will no longer be counted as part of the impervious coverage on your property; this may result in fewer billing units, and a lower stormwater utility bill.

Property owners may take credit for the treatment provided by existing stormwater facilities on their property.  The amount of the credit will depend upon the year that the facility was constructed, and whether or not is has been maintained and is functioning properly.  Details on the amounts of these credits, and the process for applying for a credit, are contained in the Credit and Incentive Manual.  The City is currently working with the Washington County Soil Conservation District to finalize a small-scale credit program geared to individual homeowners.

New treatment facilities can range from something as big as a brand new water quality filtering structure, to something as small as the installation of a rain barrel or a rain garden on a residential lot.  By providing a level of treatment for runoff, property owners will help the City to meet its overall treatment requirement.  If a property owner is interested in installing a new treatment on their property, we recommend that they first contact the office of the City Engineer to discuss the project to ensure that it will indeed qualify for a reduction in their stormwater utility bill. 

How can I contest or appeal my stormwater charge?

If you feel that the amount of the fee that you are being charged is incorrect for some reason, you can complete and submit (by regular mail or via e-mail) a "Petition for Adjustment" form to the office of the City Engineer.  (If submitting via e-mail,  first save the petition form PDF to your device, fill out the form, and then hit the "Submit" button.  Or, you can e-mail the completed form to  Your request will be reviewed and, if verified, your bill may be adjusted.

General Stormwater Information:
The City’s Stormwater Management Program seeks to not only limit flooding and runoff-related damage, but also to improve the quality of the water in the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River, and all of the tributary streams in Washington County. The City’s Stormwater Management Ordinance establishes the stormwater quality and quantity requirements for both new (“greenfield”) developments, as well as previously constructed sites that are being redeveloped. The City has also developed a program to comply with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Homeowners and residents can assist the City's efforts to manage stormwater and reduce pollutant discharges.  Please visit the Homeowner Participation page for methods and techniques that you can implement to help the City meet its goals.  If you witness or discover a discharge of pollutants into the City's storm drainage system, or into streams or waterways, please notify the City using the link below:

illicit discharge form

Stormwater Management Structures
Stormwater management within the City of Hagerstown is provided by numerous private and public facilities. Ponds, trenches, and underground detention are all used in varying degrees around the City. Some sites have stormwater management structures already in place to provide the necessary control. Other sites will require the construction of the necessary facilities as part of site development. Typically, those structures which serve residential areas are ultimately owned and maintained by a homeowners association. Those structures which serve commercial / industrial areas are owned and maintained by either the property owner or developer. An exception to this are those regional structures located in City-owned business parks which are accordingly owned and maintained by the City.  The City inspects these facilities periodically, and issues notices to the facility owners when maintenance or repair of the facility is required.

Please contact the office of the City Engineer at (301) 739-8577 ext. 125 for more information on the City’s stormwater program.