Stormwater Utilities


This page provides a variety of resources, from spelling out acronyms used throughout this site, as well as throughout a number of links we have provided.
There are also answers to some frequently asked questions.

This page will also 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 new material if there is material that is not mentioned here that has assisted you with the understanding or the formation of a SWU .


*Disclaimer – 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.*

Glossary and Acronyms




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

"BRE" – means 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" – means 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" – means 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" – means Combined Sewer Overflow ( Typically, sanitary sewer systems transport household, commercial and industrial wastewater to a sewage treatment plant for treatment, while storm sewer systems transport rainwater and melted snow where it is discharged into a waterway. In most areas, these two types of sewer systems function separately from each other, but in 21 older New Jersey communities, as well as several hundred communities across the nation, the sanitary and storm sewers are combined. Combined sewer systems ¬are shared underground piping networks that direct combined sewage and stormwater during dry weather and smaller storm events to a central wastewater treatment facility before being discharged into a waterway. However, during heavier rainfall events or significant snowmelt, the combined sewer systems overflow through Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), causing discharges of mixed untreated sewage and stormwater to the waterway. Combined sewer systems are remnants of the country’s early infrastructure and are located in older urban areas. For more information on the CSOs in New Jersey, please see –

"CWA" – means the Clean Water Act – Clean Water Act 

"DCA" – means the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs –

"EIFP" – means the  Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program –

"EPA" –means the United States Environmental Protection Agency –

"GI" – means 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 to the currently effective rules at  These regulations were also recently amended with a one year delayed operative date, with those amendments becoming effective on March 2, 2021 and can be found at

"GIS" – means Geographic Information Systems

"LOS" – means 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” – means Municipal Stormwater Management Plan.  See a sample MSWMP at

“MS4” – means Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (

“NJDEP” – means 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

“SCO” – means Stormwater Control Ordinance.  See Model SCO language at

“SWU” – means Stormwater Utility


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


When is the NJDEP Guidance going to be completed?
The NJDEP Stormwater Utility Guidance is required to be finalized by March 14 or 18, 2021 and will be provided on this website.
Do I have to wait until the guidance is finalized to begin formation of a utility in my town/service area?
No, you do not have to wait. The guidance on this website is being created by the NJDEP to assist towns and particular Authorities with the formation of a stormwater utility in accordance with the Act.
However, any entity authorized to form a utility under the Act (see section 4-7 of the Act may do so at any time and does not have to wait for this guidance to be finalized. Also, this guidance will not be a complete repertoire of how utilities can be formed and implemented, but the Department suggests that individuals interested in forming a stormwater utility check this website periodically for additional information that may assist in their own utility development.
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 on this website. As noted above, the guidance on this website is being created by the NJDEP to assist towns and particular Authorities with the formation of a stormwater utility in accordance with the Act.
However, the formation of any stormwater utility must be done so in accordance with the requirements contained in the Act. Where applicable, the Department has noted where certain information on this website is referring to a requirement 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 tax payers, rather than the individual property owners where the stormwater runoff is generated. As such, property taxes aremay not be not an equitable means of collecting funds from everyone who uses and benefits from a stormwater management system, 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 amount of stormwater runoff a property contributes to the utilities stormwater management system, or water of the State. Additional information concerning this topic will be provided as this guidance is finalized.
How are credits calculated?
Each individual stormwater utility will develop its own specific credit structure, 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. For more information on which stormwater measures shall be eligible for credits, you may review Section 8 of the Act . Additional information concerning this topic will be provided as this guidance is finalized.
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 utility formation 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 your MS4 case manager for additional guidance.

Links to Stormwater Utilities outside of New Jersey


*Disclaimer – Please note that the references on this website to the 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. According to the Western Kentucky University Stormwater Utility Survey (2019), two of the first stormwater utilities in the country were formed in 1974 in Boulder, Colorado and Bellevue, Washington. As of 2019 when the NJ 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. For additional information regarding the 2019 Survey Results, please review the survey here

The survey has also been updated annually since 2007, so be sure to check their main website for additional versions.

You may also visit any of the links below to check out examples of successful stormwater utility programs in our surrounding states. For additional examples of other stormwater utilities around the country and in Canada, refer to the Western Kentucky Survey.


Need Help?

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