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New Hanover to Begin Stormwater Program

New Hanover County will begin this summer a stormwater system maintenance program in its unincorporated areas.

Going into effect July 1, the stormwater services program is intended to “ensure the continued upkeep of the stormwater management system” in the unincorporated areas of the county as well as relieve property owners of having to maintain and clean ditches and pipes on their property, according to an announcement Monday from the county.

Managing stormwater will help reduce flood risks that could impact public safety and loss or damage of property and prevent polluted stormwater from flowing directly into rivers and streams, according to the county.

In July, once the program is implemented, the county will both begin the required maintenance, assess the current stormwater system and conveyances and prioritize maintenance for existing drainage easements. The county will also oversee contracted work funded by $4 million in Emergency Watershed Protection funds to remove downed trees and sediment in watersheds that resulted from Hurricane Florence.

The county board of commissioners approved the program during its regular meeting Monday. The program will be part of the county’s engineering department.

“This is something we’ve been exploring since 2017, because proactively managing stormwater in the unincorporated areas of the county is an important and much-needed service for our community,” said New Hanover County Engineer Jim Iannucci in a statement. “When this service begins in July, the responsibility for stormwater maintenance will shift from residents to the county and we can implement a more strategic and comprehensive approach to stormwater management.”

Property owners in the unincorporated areas of the county will be charged a monthly fee of $5.65, or $67.80 yearly, to be collected once a year via the county’s property tax billing. Commercial properties, nonprofit organizations, churches and any other nonresidential properties will also be charged a fee based on their impervious surface area.

County officials emphasized that the stormwater services fee is not a tax and will not apply to residents within Wilmington’s city limits or within the county’s beach towns.

Community meetings will be held in February for property owners to learn about the fee structure for their specific property and ask questions.

Properties developed since September 2000 that maintain stormwater control measures under a county permit will receive a 31% discount because less maintenance from stormwater services will be needed.

To learn more about the stormwater services program visit Engineering.NHCgov.com.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.