Study for Flood Management and Water Quality Funding

Fayetteville is growing faster than our current stormwater system can support. A combination of more high-intensity rainfall and growth of hard surfaces have contributed to flooded streets and properties, among other drainage issues, which can ultimately impact the quality of our drinking water source, Beaver Lake.

Thankfully, in the April bond election the residents of Fayetteville voted in favor of implementing the City’s Drainage Improvement Plan, developed after the major flooding event of 2017. The drainage projects outlined in this plan have been identified as top priorities to kickstart improvement of the city’s stormwater management. However, once these projects are completed, an ongoing and sustainable effort will be required to maintain a quality stormwater management system over time.

All hard surface areas that do not allow rainwater to drain through, such as rooftops, driveways and parking lots, are responsible for stormwater runoff, and every developed property contributes to the runoff from these hard-surface areas. The most equitable way to address the ongoing management of the City’s stormwater system is to charge a reasonable fee to each property owner based on the amount of hard surface area on their property.

The City embarked on a Flood Management and Water Quality Funding study to assess what services are currently provided in our stormwater management system, and compared those efforts with a more proactive approach to reduce flooding and pollutants that impact water quality. Staff presented those results to a City Council Stormwater Committee to consider possible options for new services that would enable the City to get ahead and stay ahead of these issues. The Council Committee will review the study and consider whether to accept the results while continuing to seek public feedback on proceeding with the implementation of a stormwater fee.

Public outreach events: September 20, 2018 (Ozark Natural Foods); September 22, 2018 (Fayetteville Farmers' Market); January 9, 2019 (Fayetteville Public Library); January 10, 2019 (Arkansas Research & Technology Park); January 17, 2019 (Boys & Girls Club)

This is the second of a series of surveys to inform the Study. Survey #2 is intended to assess your priorities for how the Stormwater Utility fees may be used.


For more information about the study, view the City of Fayetteville's Stormwater Study web page.


Fayetteville is growing faster than our current stormwater system can support. A combination of more high-intensity rainfall and growth of hard surfaces have contributed to flooded streets and properties, among other drainage issues, which can ultimately impact the quality of our drinking water source, Beaver Lake.

Thankfully, in the April bond election the residents of Fayetteville voted in favor of implementing the City’s Drainage Improvement Plan, developed after the major flooding event of 2017. The drainage projects outlined in this plan have been identified as top priorities to kickstart improvement of the city’s stormwater management. However, once these projects are completed, an ongoing and sustainable effort will be required to maintain a quality stormwater management system over time.

All hard surface areas that do not allow rainwater to drain through, such as rooftops, driveways and parking lots, are responsible for stormwater runoff, and every developed property contributes to the runoff from these hard-surface areas. The most equitable way to address the ongoing management of the City’s stormwater system is to charge a reasonable fee to each property owner based on the amount of hard surface area on their property.

The City embarked on a Flood Management and Water Quality Funding study to assess what services are currently provided in our stormwater management system, and compared those efforts with a more proactive approach to reduce flooding and pollutants that impact water quality. Staff presented those results to a City Council Stormwater Committee to consider possible options for new services that would enable the City to get ahead and stay ahead of these issues. The Council Committee will review the study and consider whether to accept the results while continuing to seek public feedback on proceeding with the implementation of a stormwater fee.

Public outreach events: September 20, 2018 (Ozark Natural Foods); September 22, 2018 (Fayetteville Farmers' Market); January 9, 2019 (Fayetteville Public Library); January 10, 2019 (Arkansas Research & Technology Park); January 17, 2019 (Boys & Girls Club)

This is the second of a series of surveys to inform the Study. Survey #2 is intended to assess your priorities for how the Stormwater Utility fees may be used.


For more information about the study, view the City of Fayetteville's Stormwater Study web page.


These questions and answers originally came from the public engagement meetings as transcribed by staff who were taking notes at those meetings.  Please take a moment to review them and if you have more questions, we will be happy to answer them as well!

Q&A

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  • What is going to be done about the Clabber Creek area? Homes in Salem Village have flooded twice in 10 years. I don't see that area included in these improvements.

    Asmith asked 3 months ago

    The City is currently working toward a flood study that would investigate potential improvements to help relieve flooding in this area.  Improvements to this area have been anticipated within the capital improvement costs within this program.  However, the City will not know the full extent of the improvements until the study is complete.

    I should be noted however, that it will be very difficult to reduce the floodplain elevation in this area.  Therefore, while there may be some protective measures that can be taken, flooding will still occur in major storm events, and there is little that can be done from a drainage infrastructure standpoint.



  • Is the city planning on making improvements to older sections of the city that do not have proper underground drainage?

    Rambo asked 3 months ago

    One portion of the program would include capital improvement projects and would be anticipated to include improvements to older portions of the City.  These projects would be rated in order of impact based on direction from the City Council.  It would also include a more proactive operation and maintenance plan and extend these services to many of the older portions of town as well.


  • Why don't you charge new development for a problem they create? Why should we pay for a new development that pushes water to others? I have a neighbor that may be forced to sell her house if this happens. She is scraping by on social security. Will their be an assistance program?

    asked 3 months ago

    The majority of the drainage problems identified in our April 2017 flooding event were associated with long standing existing development.  This is mainly due to the fact newer developments are constructed under the new building requirements and contain drainage easements for maintenance of facilities whereas many of our older developments do not.  Portions of the proposed program would try and bridge the gap in this lack of equity in operation and maintenance as well as build additional capital to address those issues.  Many of these issues would not get addressed otherwise as development or redevelopment is unlikely.  It may also encourage existing landowners, through an incentive program, to reduce their impact to the system.

    If council moves forward with the next steps, a portion will be to work out the credit and rebate system.  The potential for low income credits can be discussed and taken into consideration.


  • We have both a garage and carport. While they both have roofs, only the garage has a nonporus floor. Our driveway is not paved. Would this be taken into consideration?

    Susan Jenkins asked 3 months ago

    The roof would count for impervious area even if the floor of the carport is gravel.  Depending on the type of gravel it would likely be counted as impervious.  Many times once it is compacted and the voids filled it acts very similar to concrete or other hard surfaces. 


  • Arkansas Business reports that 40% of Arkansas homeowners can not afford a $400 emergency, and would be forced to sell or borrow to secure funds. How does spending this money make sense? If drainage is becoming a problem from new development, assess the developers. If we are trying to fix the overall Stormwater system, it should be through a sales tax or development assessment, not homeowners who can’t afford or have lived in a residence for 30+ years with no issues.

    kat100 asked 3 months ago

    The majority of the drainage problems identified in our April 2017 flooding event were associated with long-standing existing development.  This is mainly due to the fact that newer developments are constructed under the new building requirements and contain drainage easements for maintenance of facilities, whereas many of our older developments do not.  

    Portions of the proposed program would try to bridge the gap in this lack of equity in operation and maintenance, as well as build additional capital to address those issues.  Many of these issues would not get addressed otherwise as development or redevelopment is unlikely in these older areas.  It may also encourage existing landowners, through an incentive program, to reduce their impact to the system.

    While alternate methods of funding are being considered, the fee system was shown to be the most equitable as properties would be assessed based on their relative impact to the drainage system.  If City Council moves forward with the next steps, one of these will be to work out the credit and rebate system.  The potential for low-income credits can be discussed and taken into consideration.


  • Who cleans the ditches on my street?

    ddp asked 11 months ago

    If it is a public street it would be maintained by the transportation department with the exception of routine mowing


  • Hello. I have a major drainage issue in my backyard and it causes my house to shift as the soil heaves and shrinks. When the house shifts, sheetrock cracks, and we constantly have to fix cracks. I'm afraid my house is unsellable due to water in the backyard that has no way to escape, so it just sits there until it gets evaporated or absorbed by the rest of the soil. I believe the cause of the problem was created by the City, and I would like the city to correct it. It's a simple problem to fix. I have been speaking to Alan Pugh through emails and numerous photos, basically I was told by him that this issue is of low priority compared to other projects he has. He sent me here. Who can help me here? Thank you. Susan Latta

    susanlatta asked 8 months ago

    This is one reason we are looking at more sustainable ways to fund these types of projects.  The current funding is being directed to residents who have flood waters that enter their home as a priority determined by our City Council.


  • Will the city and the UofA pay these fees just like everyone else?

    concernedcitizen asked 3 months ago

    It is not the intent of the city to exempt anyone from paying the fee.


  • Can we “ding” the property owners for defunct systems that contribute problems?

    11 months ago

    Options can be considered for incentives to make sure someone is responsible for maintaining the basins.





  • Was the 2017 storm considered a “100-year” storm? And how often have those actually happened?

    11 months ago

    In parts of the City, specifically the northwest quadrant, the 2017 flooding certainly qualified as a 100-year event or greater. But not all the city was affected to that degree. We have had widespread flooding in May of 2008, 2011, some in 2015, and 2017. Again not all were 100-year events, but may have resulted in 100-year or near-100-year flooding in parts of the City. 





  • How much better will the flooding situation be if we opt for Option C?

    11 months ago

    The City will certainly be more flood resilient.  We may require that some systems surpass safety levels for a 100+-year flood event.





  • If the City takes over maintenance of drainage features on private property, does the City then become liable for flooding of private property caused by the failure of those features?

    11 months ago

    We hope that the City’s increased maintenance program would prevent that. We will need to seek clarification from the City Attorney about that question.







  • Will the fee be added to the utility payment or as a property tax?

    11 months ago

    Implementation of the program and the manner in which it is funded remain to be determined. In March, the consultants will marry the program costs with the potential revenue and prepare a feasibility study to demonstrate the impact of the potential program.





  • Will property owners be able to look at the map to determine the square footage of their impervious areas?

    11 months ago

    Yes, we will make our GIS map available online.







  • How do you determine the degree of imperviousness and how often will it be assessed?

    11 months ago

    By identifying rooftops, roads, driveways, private sidewalks and the square footage of each on a parcel basis as shown via current aerial photography.  This data will be maintained in an ongoing process.





  • How confident can we be that basins were correctly designed in the first place?

    11 months ago

    We are only confident in those that were designed under some of the newer regulations which require as-builts and certifications from the Engineer of Record that the basin was constructed as designed.  These requirements date somewhere back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s.







  • Why would a POA NOT take care of their own ponds?

    11 months ago

    POA’s sometimes go defunct and quit collecting fees from property owners.







  • Will the fee replace the Capital Improvement Program?

    11 months ago

    No, there will always be a CIP from the general fund but those projects come and go as City Council priorities. But the difference is a stormwater fee MUST be used only on stormwater projects.







  • How does infill within the city affect the issue of stormwater maintenance?

    11 months ago

    There should be no net increase. The ongoing watershed analysis should keep this flat going forward, but some infills are not covered under the drainage manual.





  • Why did other cities opt to enact stormwater fees?

    11 months ago

    I’m not sure about all of them, but Hot Springs had severe flooding downtown. Their fees went partly toward a flood warning system that includes rain gauges in the mountains that can trigger evacuation notices. Others are in similar situations to Fayetteville in that they wish to be more proactive with maintenance and capital projects.





  • Are there any cities of similar size to compare us to?

    11 months ago

    Yes, there are examples of other University towns of similar size outside the state that are shown in the presentation.  A Western Kentucky University Stormwater Utility Study from 2016 shows a total of 1500 stormwater utilities across the nation.





  • Will there be a board or commission set up to operate the programs implemented by the stormwater fee?

    11 months ago

    The majority of the work will be managed at the staff level but there will need to be some sort of appeals process at some level. It is likely to be similar to how the water utility is arbitrated to ensure good customer service practices.  This will be discussed later when implementation is defined should the fee be adopted.





  • Could the stormwater fee, if implemented, be used to buy land?

    11 months ago

    Yes, one of the items being considered is a floodplain buyout.  Also, there are potential matching grant dollars from FEMA should the city use that approach.







  • Based on the current water in the system, are regulations being built in to allow for future development and to have more stringent controls.

    11 months ago

    Yes, new regulations came into place in 2014 with the adoption of the Drainage Criteria manual that are used during our development review process.





  • What dams is the City responsible to maintain?

    11 months ago

    Dams at Lakes Fayetteville, Wilson, and Sequoyah.







  • What is the difference between a stormwater fee and the potential $15 million dollar bond currently being proposed for drainage improvement projects?

    11 months ago

    The bond can be thought of as an “early action plan” to catch up to needed projects and to accelerate the timeframe for proactively working on the issues identified by the 2018 Drainage Improvement Plan that is located here:  http://www.fayetteville-ar.gov/DocumentCenter/View/14803/2018-Drainage-Improvement-Plan?bidId=

    It’s important to remember that these bond funds cannot be used for operation and maintenance and must be used solely on capital projects.







  • What do we mean by regulatory compliance?

    11 months ago

    Both the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the Federal EPA maintain regulations regarding the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (commonly referred to as MS4).  These are documented in the City’s Stormwater Management Plan that can be found here:  http://www.fayetteville-ar.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1689/Stormwater-Management-Plan-PDF?bidId=

    The Clean Water Act is the basis for many of these regulations.  Remember we are not just talking about regulatory matters, but also human health and safety issues as well as property protection.







  • Can a homeowner negotiate drainage easements on older developments?

    11 months ago

    Possibly, if the city has identified the areas as one that is a chronic issue.  The guidelines to accept these issues are yet to be developed but will be ongoing discussions within this study.







  • How does a property owner know if the city owns easements on my land?

    11 months ago

    This information would have been made available to a property buyer during a title search, but if there is uncertainty, the city’s Land Records GIS map at this site can be used to determine the status.  These are not all encompassing but could begin to give an owner an idea of the easements on their property:

    http://www.fayetteville-ar.gov/384/GIS-Interactive-Maps







  • What quality of dirt (clay) does the city use for backfill?

    11 months ago


    In general, we follow the standard guidelines set forth by the City for either stormwater or water and sewer services.




  • Will the fee structure reflect imperviousness and slope and site-specific soils and drainage needs?

    11 months ago

    This program will solely be based on impervious areas within each parcel.  The City has other means (regulations) to get to the grading issues on a specific site.







  • Can a property owner get retroactive credit for cisterns or other rainwater detention projects?

    11 months ago

    It is possible, but in order to make sure it is functioning, the city will need to have an inspection or certification process. The City will need to balance the need for recognizing efforts to reduce impact while not creating a program in which a large portion is spent on administration.





  • In the potential credit program, if a developer builds detention ponds, who gets the credit?

    11 months ago

    The homeowner would, provided it is demonstrated to be a functioning detention pond. The cost of the detention pond would typically be built into the cost of the home in a residential setting.







  • How does a credit program work?

    11 months ago

    Credit programs are put in place to recognize the efforts of property owners that reduce their impacts and provide incentives for property owners to do specific things to lessen their impact on drainage.  The credit program would be customized for our community.





  • Are there savings associated with taking Option C?

    11 months ago

    Both the City and private citizens will be saving, but it’s hard to say how much. In terms of public savings, in the 2017 flood, the largest damage was at Mt. Kessler, where slope failure cost around $1 million. Certainly, a more flood resilient town would be savings to our residents.





  • Since the current maintenance system is complaint-based, is that potentially biased against low-income or low-education residents who might not make that call?

    11 months ago

    That bias could exist. We are making efforts to educate people to let us know about problems wherever they occur.


  • If a stormwater fee is implemented, what will it cover?

    11 months ago

    The fee must be directly related to the services provided.  All fees collected can only be used for stormwater items directly related to our storm drainage system.  This could include routine operation and maintenance, capital projects, water quality projects, stream restoration projects, flood preventions/mitigation and similar type activities.







  • Does the City have proactive (inspection) as well as reactive (problem reporting) stormwater management today?

    11 months ago

    Within the portion of the storm drain system the City maintains, public rights-of-way and drainage easement, the maintenance is largely reactive currently.  We rely on citizens to notify the Transportation Division of problems, so they can be addressed.  There are certain problem areas that the City does proactively inspect but that is generally limited to small portions of the system and directly ahead of forecast large rain events.





  • What is a drainage easement?

    11 months ago

    An easement that gives the City the right to access private property to perform maintenance on drainage pipes, ditches, creeks, or streams that are located on private property but are managed by the City.