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Proposal to Amend City Code to Clarify Stormwater Billing Methodology

What is proposed?

The City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) proposes the following changes to clarify the stormwater billing methodology (PCC 17.36):

  • Define Impervious Area by reference to the Stormwater Management Manual.
  • Clarify the on-site and off-site stormwater billing components.
  • Provide clarity on the ‘basis for charge’ for stormwater billing.

Why are changes needed?

  • The current language is potentially ambiguous, allowing for misinterpretation.
  • The purpose and intent of stormwater billing was not clear.

How does this proposal differ from current programs?

Below is a comparison of the main changes being proposed.



17.36.020.J. defines “Impervious Area” as an area of a property that does not allow rainwater to percolate naturally into the ground.

17.36.020.J will define “Impervious area” by reference to the Stormwater Management Manual and clarify that rooftops, asphalt, and concrete meet the definition of impervious area unless proven otherwise.

17.36.050.F.1.a. and b. The purpose of the on-site and off-site components of the bill is not explained.

17.36.060.F.1.a. and b. Clarification is added to explain the purpose of the on-site and off-site components of the bill.

17.36.050.F.2. explains that the stormwater fees are the user’s proportionate share of City stormwater management services.

17.36.050.F.2. further clarifies the purpose of the   on-site and off-site components of the user’s proportionate share of City stormwater management services.

This proposal is expected to benefit ratepayers by clarifying the existing stormwater billing methodology, thereby increasing transparency.

Next steps

  • A Portland City Code (PCC) change package has been prepared for City Council adoption in January 2018.
  • The PCC provisions become effective upon second reading if there is a favorable Council vote. UPDATE: This is no longer anticipated to be an emergency ordinance and should take effect 30 days after final passage by Council.


For more information, contact Alice Brawley-Chesworth at or 503-823-4913.


Public comment on this proposed code change will be taken during the City Council meeting on January 10, 2018. BES will present the Ordinance Clarify stormwater billing methodology (Ordinance; amend Code Sections 17.36.020 and 17.36.050) to City Council at 2:00pm. City Council has allotted 30 minutes to hear the Ordinance presentation and public comment.