Stormwater Utility Guidance


This page provides a variety of supplemental information, from a glossary of acronyms and terms used throughout this site, to a Frequently Asked Questions section, as well as links to many other websites and resources we have used to develop this stormwater utility website. 

This page will be updated periodically to add new information as it is developed or discovered. Please feel free to use the Contact Us link on the Home Page to inform us of material that is not mentioned here that has assisted you with the understanding, establishment or implementation of a stormwater utility.  However, please note that the inclusion of links on this webpage to organizations outside this Department are for informational purposes and does not indicate the Department’s endorsement of the material on that website.

Also, as noted often throughout these SWU webpages, the Department has developed a free mapping and inventory tool for users to create an inventory and map of their stormwater facilities. Information regarding logging inspections, routine maintenance, needed upgrades, and repairs can also be developed from the inventory.


Glossary and Acronyms

All words and terms used throughout this website shall have meanings as defined in the "Regulations Concerning the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System" (N.J.A.C. 7:14A), unless otherwise stated or unless the context clearly requires a different meaning.



Act– means the “Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act” which is the act that allows for the formation of stormwater utilities in New Jersey.

BRE – Business Risk Exposure, which is a method of calculating (scoring) the nature and level of exposure that a utility is likely to confront through a potential failure of a specified asset

BMP– Best Management Practices, or measures that are designed to achieve the permittee’s requirement to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the permittee’s property, i.e. the municipality’s MS4, municipal maintenance yards and other ancillary operations, to protect water quality, and to satisfy the applicable water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act.

BMP Manual– the New Jersey Stormwater Best Management Practice Manual. This manual provides guidance to address the standards in the Stormwater Management Rules at N.J.A.C. 7:8. A link to this manual can be found at

CSO – "Combined Sewer Overflow", or the excess flow from the combined sewer system which is not conveyed to the domestic treatment works for treatment, but transmitted by pipe or other channel directly to waters of the State.  For more information on the CSOs in New Jersey, please see –

CWA – the Clean Water Act also known as the Federal Act or Federal Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. et seq.) including all subsequent supplements and amendments.– Clean Water Act 

DCA – the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs –

EPA – the United States Environmental Protection Agency –

GI – Green Infrastructure, which is a stormwater management measure that manages stormwater close to its source by treating stormwater runoff through infiltration into subsoil, treating stormwater runoff through filtration by vegetation or soil, or storing stormwater runoff for reuse. 

This is the definition from the Stormwater Management Rules at N.J.A.C. 7:8.  Please see this link at  These regulations were recently amended with a one year delayed operative date, with those amendments becoming effective on March 2, 2021.

GIS – Geographic Information Systems

LOS – Level of Service, which is the specified goals of the stormwater utility, with consideration for the role and function of utility infrastructure assets and how they are expected to perform.

LTCP – means Long Term Control Plan, which is a required submission to the state by CSO permittees that identifies chosen alternatives and the implementation plan to reducing CSO discharges.  These LTCPS are  based on system wide evaluations of the sewer infrastructure and includes the relationship between the sewer capacity, precipitation, treatment capacity, and overflow.  For more information on long term control plans, please see –

MSWMP – Municipal Stormwater Management Plan.  See a sample MSWMP at

MS4 – Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (

NJDEP – the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

NJPDES – means the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.  The NJPDES Program protects New Jersey's ground and surface water quality by assuring the proper treatment and discharge of wastewater (and its residuals) and stormwater from various types of facilities and activities. To accomplish this, permits are issued limiting the mass and/or concentration of pollutants which may be discharged into ground water, streams, rivers, and the ocean. The types of regulated facilities can range from very small users such as campgrounds, schools, and shopping centers to larger industrial and municipal wastewater dischargers

NJWB - New Jersey Water Bank - (formerly - New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program) -

SCO – Stormwater Control Ordinance.  See Model SCO language at

SWU – Stormwater Utility


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


The guidance on these webpages was created by the Department assist towns and other entities with the formation of a stormwater utility in accordance with the Act.
Any entity authorized to form a utility under the Act, which are listed on the SWU Home page, may do so at any time. This webpage will be updated periodically with new information, as needed.

Do I have to follow the NJDEP guidance when forming a utility in my town/service area?

No, you do not have to follow the guidance information on this website, however these SWU webpages do include information regarding the requirements of the Act.  The establishment of any stormwater utility must be done in accordance with the requirements contained in the Act. The Department has noted where certain information on these webpages refers to requirements of the Act, and not just guidance.

How is a Stormwater Utility Fee different from a property tax?

Stormwater utility fees are required to be assessed in a fair and equitable manner, based on the amount of stormwater runoff each property contributes to the utility’s stormwater management system or waters of the state. Property taxes are assessed based on the value of each property, which often does not correlate to the amount of stormwater runoff generated from each property.

Financing a town’s stormwater management program through property tax places the burden solely on the taxpayers, rather than on all of the individual property owners,  based on the amount of stormwater runoff generated. Property taxes alone may not be an equitable means of collecting funds from those who use and benefits from a stormwater management system; this is especially the case in areas where there are large parking/paved areas and/or tax-exempt properties.

Furthermore, the revenues generated from stormwater utility fees can only be used for stormwater-related expenditures, whereas funds generated from property taxes are absorbed into the general fund for the town and can be allocated for any town expense. Funding from general revenue sources faces fierce competition each year among elected officials and department directors vying for their share of limited dollars. Even though user fees are not tax-deductible for individuals, businesses can deduct it as a business expense. Additionally, stormwater fees have the potential to be reduced for both individual property owners as well as businesses through applicable credits based on particular stormwater measures implemented to reduce, retain, or treat stormwater onsite. Property taxes are typically lowered when the property value has been reassessed at a lower value or when there is a general decrease in the overall public expenditures incurred by the local government, not due to reduced stormwater runoff.

What are impervious surfaces?

Impervious surfaces are mainly artificial structures such as roads, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots that are covered by water-resistant materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick, or stone. Impervious surfaces also include rooftops and highly compacted soils, all of which do not allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground. Instead, these areas contribute highly to increased stormwater runoff.

How are SWU fees calculated?

Each individual stormwater utility will develop its own specific fee structure; however, the Act requires that these fees be calculated in a fair and reasonable manner based on the contribution of stormwater runoff from a property to the stormwater management system or waters of the State. See the Rate Structure section on the Fees, Credits, and Exemptions page.

How are credits calculated?

Each individual stormwater utility will develop its own specific credit program; however, the Act requires that these credits be calculated based on particular stormwater measures that reduce, retain, or treat stormwater onsite. The Act contains very specific language concerning what measures shall be eligible for credits. See the Credits section on the Fees, Credits, and Exemptions page.

How can I get involved in planning, asking questions, raising concerns, and contributing ideas related to the potential formation of a stormwater utility in my town?

The Establishment of the SWU process will be somewhat different for each town or service area. Questions regarding your particular town’s stormwater and stormwater utility activities should be directed to the Stormwater Program Coordinator by calling your town offices.

Also, be sure to continually check your town’s website or contact your local representatives for ways you can become involved. Prospective stormwater utilities will have to present the idea to the public. Be on the lookout for events such as public forums or meetings where you can get more information on how a stormwater utility could affect your town and to stay informed regarding new stormwater issues that may arise.

If you feel a stormwater utility may suit your town well and would like to get the discussion started, a good first step would be to contact your local town officials, planning board or environmental commission. If they are not ready to discuss this topic, you may also contact Contact Us link of the Home page.

Links to Stormwater Utilities outside of New Jersey


*Disclaimer – Please note that the references on this website from stormwater utility programs across the country and Canada do not indicate the Department’s endorsement of the specific structure of any of those other programs as they were not established in accordance with the requirements of the New Jersey Stormwater Utility Law.**

Stormwater utilities have been successfully established and implemented by numerous towns, cities, counties and authorities in other states and countries. According to the Western Kentucky University Stormwater Utility Survey (versions), two of the first stormwater utilities in the country were formed in 1974 in Boulder, Colorado and Bellevue, Washington. As of 2019 when the Act was passed, there were 1,716 stormwater utilities that had formed nationwide in 40 states plus Washington D.C. and Canada. The survey presents information on the number of stormwater utilities per state, utility fee averages and ranges, and how different utilities calculate their fees.

You may also visit any of the links below to check out examples of successful stormwater utility programs in our surrounding states.


Need Help?

You may contact the Department’s Bureau of Nonpoint Pollution Control for MS4 questions and overall guidance questions: (609)-633-7021 or