Storm Water Management Fee

Storm Water Management rendering

In April 2017, Palo Alto property owners voted to approve a new Storm Water Management fee that will replace the City's existing Storm Drainage fee. A typical homeowner will pay about $13.65 per month, effective June 1, 2017. The Storm Water Management fee will be included on the monthly utility bill and represents a 62 cent increase for a typical property. The fee was approved by approximately 64 percent of those submitted with 50 percent needed to pass.

The Storm Water Management Program funds routine water system maintenance and operation that keep the City's storm water infrastructure clean and at peak performance, and provides for storm water system improvements that prevent street flooding. The program also provides litter reduction, creek pollution prevention programs, commercial and residential rebates, and flooding emergency- response services. Constructing Green Infrastructure Projects is a new priority which includes infiltrating and cleansing storm water to decrease peak flows to the conveyance system. 

New Fee Components

  1. A Base component of $7.48 per "Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) per month. This portion of the Fee will pay for ongoing expenditures associated with storm water system maintenance, engineering design and analysis of rehabilitation projects, litter and water pollution prevention programs and regulatory compliance. This component is an ongoing fee and is subject to an annual City Council-approved adjustment for inflation (see FAQs below for more information about ERUs and inflation adjustments);

  2. A projects and infrastructure component of $6.17 per ERU per month. This portion of the fee will initially generate $3.1 million annually for new storm water system capacity improvements, system upgrades, and green storm water infrastructure projects. This component is subject to an annual City Council-approved adjustment for inflation and would end in 15 years (on June 1, 2032) unless extended by a subsequent ballot measure.  Revenue from this fee component will fund:
  • $1,281,000 in the initial year for storm drain system capacity improvements. Over the 15-year life of the ballot measure, it is projected that there will be adequate funding for approximately 13 projects with a present day value of $23.8 million;
  • $947,000 for debt service for past storm system improvements through FY 2024;
  • $400,000 annually for storm water system replacement and rehabilitation;
  • $375,000 annually for green storm water infrastructure projects; and
  • $125,000 annually for residential and commercial rebates for installing green storm water infrastructure measures such as of cisterns, rain barrels, pervious paving and green roofs.


01/01/2016 - City Manager, Jim Keene, appoints Blue Ribbon Stormwater Committee
08/29/2016 - Palo Alto City Council adopted a resolution proposing a Storm Water Management Fee of $13.65 per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) to replace the existing Storm Drainage Fee
09/09/2016 - Legal notices mailed
10/24/2016 - Protest hearing held as required (did not receive a majority protest)
02/24/2017 - Ballots mailed to property owners
04/11/2017 - Palo Alto property owners approve Stormwater Fee Ballot
04/17/2017 - City Council certification of election results
06/01/2017 - Effective date of new Storm Water Management Fee