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Drainage Utility FAQ's

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The City is considering the implementation of a Drainage Utility to provide improved funding for the City’s drainage management program to reduce the frequency and magnitude of flooding conditions throughout the City. The following information is provided to answer the most common questions associated with Drainage Utility implementation.

1. What is a Drainage Utility?

A Drainage Utility is a user-fee based funding mechanism for municipal drainage management services. The fee is proportional to service demand similar to municipal water, wastewater, and solid waste services. The two major advantages over continued reliance on monies from the General Fund for drainage services are: 1) the establishment of a dedicated, long-term funding stream specifically for drainage
management and 2) customer fee equity.

There are over sixty (60) municipal drainage utilities in the state of Texas. Drainage Utility implementation and operation are governed by State laws. Drainage Utility revenue must be managed in a protected account and can only be used for drainage management purposes.

2. What are Drainage Utility fees based on?

Fees are assigned to property parcels based on storm-water
runoff characteristics, not property value. Because the placement of impervious cover on land, such as rooftops, driveways, walkways, and parking areas, increases both the flow rate and volume of stormwater runoff; it is the single most significant land use characteristic in terms of demand placed on drainage infrastructure systems to convey stormwater runoff flows. Therefore, the amount of impervious cover is used to assign Drainage Utility fees to all developed properties, both residential and commercial, within the City.

3. How is the Drainage Utility fee determined?

The monthly fee is based on the amount of impervious surface area on each developed land parcel in the City. Impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways and parking areas impede natural infiltration, and increase the rate and volume of stormwater runoff that must be collected and carried by the City’s drainage system. The impervious area for each developed property parcel was estimated from Potter-Randall Appraisal District records on
building features and parking areas and aerial photographs of the City. The average impervious area for single-family property in Amarillo is 2,800 square feet. This average will be the standard Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) used for the commercial property classification.

4. What is the fee structure?

Based on evaluation of impervious area (IA), a three-tiered rate structure was developed for single-family properties. The “Small” and “Large” classifications each represent twenty-five percent of the total number of parcels in the City. The “Typical” classification represents the middle fifty percent of parcels in the City.

Single-Family Classification


Classification Equivalent Residential Units Impervious Area
Small 0.68 ERU up to 2,072 square feet
Typical 1.0 ERU 2,072-3,236 square feet
Large 1.51 ERU greater than 3,236 square feet

Duplex-fourplex, condominium, and mobile homes not in commercial parks are assigned the “Small” classification for each dwelling unit.

Commercial classification properties are assigned fees based on the number of Equivalent Residential Units of impervious area on the property parcel.

Commercial Classification

Number of ERUs = Impervious Area/2,800 square feet (minimum 1.0 ERU)

The Commercial classification includes commercial, industrial, multi-family apartments, commercial mobile home park, City, County, school district, and religious properties.


State law exempts the following properties from Drainage Utility fees:

  • State of Texas
  • Institutions of higher learning
  • Undeveloped property
  • Properties with private drainage system* (No
    discharge to a waterway, roadway, or other City drainage infrastructure)

*On-site drainage infrastructure such as detention ponds, channels, pipes, and culverts do not constitute a “private drainage system” if stormwater runoff leaves the property boundary and enters the City’s drainage system.

5. How much is the fee?

The monthly billing rate will be $2.61 per ERU.The City Council will review Drainage Utility progress as part of the annual budget process.

Property Classification Monthly Fee
Smail Residential $1.77
Typical Residential $2.61
Large Residential $3.94
Commercial $40.71 / acre impervious area (43,560 square feet)
6. How will the fee be collected?

The fee will be included on the City’s monthly utility billing statement along with water, wastewater, and solid waste collection fees.

7. What will customers receive for their monthly fee?

The revenue from this new fee will enable the City to fund $12,000,000 in drainage management construction projects that have been on hold and will support an improved, dedicated operation and maintenance program for proactive cleaning and rehabilitation/replacement of the aging drainage infrastructure system.

8. Will the Utility solve all of the drainage problems in Amarillo?

The City plans to systematically address existing drainage and water quality problems as well as establish improved design standards for future drainage infrastructure. However, the City cannot afford to immediately fund solutions for all of the known problems. Priorities will be established by the City Council, and the timing for the start of individual projects will be based on revenues collected and other financial factors that must be considered.

9. When will the fee go into effect?

The fee will be effective with the October 2012 City utility billing statement.

10. Can I request a review of my drainage fee?

If you believe that your fee is in error, there will be an appeal process whereby the customer can bring forward information on impervious area, land use, or private drainage system for City consideration for fee adjustment. To do so, please use the "Drainage Utility Fee Adjustment" request form found under the "Resources" page.