Utility Rates

Storm Water Utility Rate FAQ

Q: What IS Storm Water? 

A: Storm water is runoff that occurs when rain or melting snow flows across impervious (hard) surfaces like roofs, driveways, streets and parking lots, resulting in fewer opportunities to soak into the ground. This can cause flooding and increased pollution to our waterways. 

Q: Doesn’t storm water get treated at the wastewater plant? 

A: NO. None of our storm water is piped to or treated by the wastewater facility.  Our City storm drains lead directly to our sole-source aquifer and our local waterways.

Q: Why do we need a Storm Water Utility?

A: The City of Missoula established the Storm Water Utility in 2016 to better maintain compliance with the stringent requirements of the Clean Water Act, which is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

Q: Do we really need new permanent rates?

A: Yes. The purpose of the current interim rate (short-term rate) was to create the utility, identify storm water infrastructure construction and maintenance needs and determine the true cost of running such a program.  The interim rate was never designed to fully fund the operations of the Storm Water Utility.  The newly proposed permanent rate structure is for a complete and comprehensive system of storm water management and drainage services throughout the City. 

Q: Is this a new tax?

A: No, the Storm water Utility Fee is not a tax. Similar to the Wastewater (sewer) utility, you are paying for a service. All properties, including tax-exempt properties, must pay the fee based on their property type. All revenue collected will be used for storm water management.

Q: Will I still get a semi-annual bill for Storm Water?

A: No. The amount on your semi-annual bill will be replaced by the new monthly storm water rate that you will see on your monthly water/utility bill.

Q: My neighbor is on a well so they don’t get a water bill, does that mean they don’t have to pay the storm water rate?

A: No. Every property owner will receive a storm water bill regardless of whether or not they have a City Water account.

Q: How much revenue will this rate generate?

A: Approximately $1.2 million.  While that seems like a lot, consider the following graphic comparing our residential rates with other similar Storm Water programs:Monthly 2019 Storm Water Rates Graphic showing comparable rates across several cities.

Q: What does the Storm Water rate pay for?

A:  Operating costs, inspections, regulatory compliance, repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure, as well as the addition of expansions and upgrades to the Storm Water system.  All of these expenses help the City of Missoula reach our number one goal of improving water quality discharge to the aquifer and local waterways.  

Q: How does the Storm Water Utility benefit the citizens?

A:  Two words. Water quality.  Our goal is to educate citizens, general public, school children, and businesses (including contractors and developers) on storm water pollution prevention solutions and techniques to protect our aquifer and waterways, to improve the quality of our most precious resource. 

Q: I don’t have any storm water dry-wells or pipes on my street, do I still have to pay the Storm Water fee?

A: Yes. Storm water infrastructure design can be more complicated that you may expect.  Slope, elevation, and hydrology patterns play a large part in how storm water is directed.  Your home may benefit from storm water infrastructure that is located several blocks away.  Also, maintenance on storm drains along frequently traveled roads (Reserve, Broadway, Orange, Mullan, Russell, etc.) reduces water pollution and potential flooding that benefits the entire City of Missoula.

Q: How did you come up with the trip count or ITE Codes? 

A: The trip count is an estimation of the impact (quantity of trips) you are contributing to the Storm Water system.  Your ITE Code is assigned by the billing department and reflects your property use (i.e. residential, business type, etc.). These numbers are based on the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) recommendations. For over 40 years the ITE has collected and analyzed transportation data. This data is used around the world to improve community’s planning and growth.  If you would like more information on the ITE, visit ite.org

Q: I don’t own a car, why am I being charged a “trip charge”?

A: Whether someone walks, bikes, rides the bus or drives in Missoula, everyone has a storm water footprint.  Vehicles of all types (bicycles, skateboards, motorcycles, buses, cars and trucks) impact storm water – all transportation uses leave residual material on sidewalks, trails and streets, which impact storm water. Additionally, those impervious (hard) surfaces – sidewalks, trails, and streets – also impact storm water as they concentrate large volumes of storm water.  The trip charge also includes vehicle use on your behalf (i.e. deliveries and services that travel to and from your home).

Q: Why did you base the rate on trip charges instead of impervious surface?

A: In Missoula we have a sole source aquifer for all of our drinking water needs and multiple rivers, streams, and creeks that flow through our city.  By basing our rate on trips (i.e. quantity of traffic generated) we are charging higher rates to those property owners who are more likely to affect our water quality.  An example of why we decided on trip charges would be a mini-storage vs. a drive-through restaurant. The mini-storage has a greater impervious surface area and creates more storm water runoff, BUT the drive-through restaurant, while smaller in size, generates significantly more customers that impact storm water pollution.  We have chosen to place the cost on potential pollution causers or those property owners that will impact our environment the most.

Storm Water Utility Rate Study Presentation

Missoula Storm Water Rate Study link to powerpoint presentation. Opens in new window

Ordinance & Interim Utility Rates

As dictated by Ordinance 3580 – MMC 13.27, utility rates cover storm water services for every property and street in Missoula. The City developed an interim rate schedule for the storm water utility and began an in-depth rate study the summer of 2017. When completed, this study will be used to establish a new rate schedule and must be approved by City Council as part of a public process. The interim rates are as follows:

  • Residential (per Unit) $9.00/year, billed twice a year; and
  • Commercial/Industrial (per Unit) $23.00/year, billed quarterly.

The newly proposed Storm Water Utility rates are as follows:

Comparison of 2019 and newly proposed 2020 Storm Water Utility RatesStorm Water ITE Codes, Units, and ADTs Page 1

Storm Water ITE Codes, Units, and ADTs Page 2

Storm Water Footprint

Whether someone walks, bikes, rides the bus, or drives in Missoula, everyone has a storm water footprint.

  • All vehicles (bicycles, skateboards, motorcycles, buses, cars, and trucks) leave behind grease, oil, fuel, brake fluid, rubber from tires, dirt, mud, gravel, or some other contaminant.
  • Even pedestrians leave residual material on sidewalks, trails, and streets, including pet waste and trash.
  • All transportation modes within the city require impervious (hard) surfaces, such as streets, sidewalks, curbs, and gutters that concentrate and move large volumes of storm water to storm drains.
  • Missoula's storm water ends up in our creeks, streams, rivers, and aquifer.

The Missoula Valley Water Quality District (MVWQD), a division within the Missoula City-County Health Department, responds to illicit discharges.

If you would like to report an illicit discharge or have a storm water construction site concern you may use the online reporting form or call 406-258-4890 during regular business hours or for an after-hours matter, please call 911.