City of Tacoma


The City of Tacoma has enacted a Stormwater Ordinance in order to establish minimum stormwater management requirements and controls to protect and safeguard the general health, safety, and welfare of the public residing in watersheds within this jurisdiction.  The City of Tacoma is the permitting authority for all land disturbing activities and requires the land owner to maintain all on-site stormwater control facilities and all open space areas (e.g. parks or “green” areas) required by the approved stormwater control plan. The City of Tacoma will only provide construction permits to projects that establish a plan to manage stormwater runoff occurring during the construction process. The City of Tacoma, under the NPDES program, also has the authority to inspect properties for noncompliance and can issue a notice of violation (NOV) for any deficiency or infraction onsite. Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of any stormwater facilities or practices located on the property. The City of Tacoma  has the authority to inspect stormwater facilities and practices in order to ascertain that they are properly maintained and functioning.

Excerpt from Tacoma Municipal Code

City Clerk’s Office 12-39 (Revised 7/2014)

Chapter 12.08 WASTEWATER AND SURFACEWATER MANAGEMENT - REGULATION AND RATES

12.08.005 Purpose and policy.

Pursuant to the authority conferred by RCW 90.48, this chapter sets forth uniform requirements for users of the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) and the storm drainage system of the City of Tacoma, and allows the City to comply with all applicable state and federal laws including, but not limited to, the Clean Water Act, the General Pretreatment Regulations, 40 CFR Part 403, and the Stormwater Regulations in 40 CFR Parts 122, 123, and 124. The objectives of this chapter are to:

  1. Prevent the introduction of pollutants into the POTW that will interfere with the operation of the POTW, or otherwise be incompatible with the POTW;
  2. Prevent the introduction of pollutants into the POTW that will pass through the POTW inadequately treated, into receiving waters;
  3. Protect personnel who may be affected by wastewater and biosolids in the course of their employment, and to protect the general public;
  4. Ensure that the quality of POTW biosolids is maintained at a level that allows its use and disposal in compliance with applicable statutes and regulations;
  5. Improve the opportunity to recycle and reclaim wastewater and biosolids from the POTW;
  6. Support economic development with the establishment of a new program to support conservation of the municipal sewer system through economic incentives and technical assistance for wastewater source control and wastewater pretreatment processes;
  7. Fix the price of service for the City’s POTW;
  8. Fix the price of service for the City’s storm water system;
  9. Provide for the control of the quantity and quality of the water discharged into the municipal storm drainage system so as to comply with the City’s Stormwater Management Program, its NPDES permits, and applicable state and federal laws;
  10. Manage stormwater to minimize flooding, erosion, and contact with contaminants or pollutants; and to manage runoff from developed properties and construction sites;
  11. Encourage Low Impact Development (“LID”) as the preferred and commonly-used approach for stormwater management.
  12. Mitigate the impacts of increased runoff due to urbanization, correct or mitigate existing water quality problems related to
    stormwater, and to help restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the City’s waters for the
    protection of beneficial uses, including salmon.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide for and promote the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. The provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to give full effect to the objectives and purposes for which it was enacted. Compliance with the provisions of this chapter and regulations and manuals referenced under this chapter does not necessarily mitigate all impacts to the environment. Compliance with this chapter and related regulations and manual should not be construed as mitigating all stormwater impacts, and additional mitigation may be required to protect the environment. This chapter does not create or otherwise establish or designate any particular class or group of persons who will or should be especially protected or benefited by the provisions of this chapter. The primary obligation for compliance with this chapter and for preventing environmental harm on or from property is placed upon responsible parties, as defined by this chapter.

12.08.007 Applicability and administration.

A. General. This chapter shall apply to all direct and indirect users of the City’s Municipal Sewer System. The Director of the Environmental Services Department is hereby authorized and directed to enforce all provisions of this chapter. The Director shall have the authority to render interpretations of this chapter, and may adopt reasonable rules and administrative procedures to enforce the provisions of this chapter. Such interpretations, rules, and administrative procedures shall be in conformity with the intent and purposes of this chapter.

B. The Director may appoint such number of technical officers, inspectors, and other personnel as shall be authorized from time to time to implement the provisions of this chapter.

C. Inspections. All activities regulated by this chapter, except those exempted under TMC 12.08.090, are subject to inspection by the Director to determine that adequate control is being exercised, or to determine whether an approval is warranted. The Director may establish inspection programs to ensure compliance with the requirements of this chapter and to accomplish its purposes. Inspection programs may be established on any reasonable basis including, but not limited to, routine inspections, random inspections, inspections based upon complaints or other notice of possible violations, inspection of drainage basins or areas identified as higher than typical sources of sediment or other contaminants or pollutants, inspections of businesses or industries of a type associated with higher than usual discharges of contaminants or pollutants or with discharges of a type which are more likely than the typical discharge to cause violations of state or federal water or sediment quality standards or the City’s NPDES stormwater permit, and joint inspections with other agencies inspecting under environmental or safety laws. Inspections may include, but are not limited to, reviewing maintenance and repair records; sampling discharges, surface water, and material or water in drainage control facilities; and evaluating the condition of drainage control facilities and other best management practices.

D. Right of Entry. Whenever necessary to make an inspection to enforce any of the provisions of this chapter or monitor for proper function of stormwater facilities, or whenever the Director or the Director’s authorized representative has reasonable cause to believe that there exists in any building or upon any property any condition or violation of this chapter relating to the pollution or the possible pollution of any of the waters of the state, the Director or the Director’s authorized representative may enter such building or premises at all reasonable times to inspect the same, collect samples, or to perform any duty imposed upon the Director by this chapter, provided that if such building or premises be occupied, the Director shall first present proper credentials and request entry; and if such building or premises be unoccupied, the Director shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other persons having charge or control of the building or premises and request entry. If such entry is refused, the Director shall have recourse to every remedy provided by law to secure entry.

E. Authority to Stop Work. Whenever work is being done that is contrary to the provisions of this chapter, or contrary to the provisions of plans, drawings, specifications, or calculations approved by the Director, then the Director may order the work stopped by notice in writing, served on those persons engaged in or causing the work to be done. Any such persons shall thereafter stop such work until authorized by the Director to proceed.

F. Violations. Violations of this chapter and/or any state and federal regulation the City is authorized to enforce under this chapter may be subject to the enforcement procedures set forth in Tacoma Municipal Code (“TMC”) 12.08.200, assessment of supplemental charges under TMC 12.08.610, the penalty provisions of TMC 12.08.670, and the notification and civil penalty provisions set forth in TMC 12.08.675, and any other enforcement provisions authorized by this chapter.

G. Re-inspections. It shall be the duty of the owner or the owner’s agent to notify the Director that violations have been corrected, and to request a re-inspection. The Director may require that such request for re-inspection be filed one working day before such inspection if desired. It shall be the duty of the owner or owner’s agent to provide safe access to and means for inspection of any corrective work.

I. Best Management Practices. Pursuant to the municipal stormwater National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Director is authorized to develop and update, as necessary, the City of Tacoma Stormwater Management Manual, hereinafter referred to as the “Manual.” The Best Management Practices (hereinafter “BMPs”) that are set forth in the Manual are intended to control the quality and quantity of stormwater that is or will be contributed to the City’s storm drainage system as the result of existing discharges and land uses, new development and redevelopment, and stormwater maintenance activities. In those instances where appropriate BMPs are not in the Manual, emerging BMPs may be considered. Emerging BMPs will be considered under the exceptions process in TMC 12.08.095.

J. Regulated Activities. This chapter regulates all direct and indirect discharges to receiving waters and the Municipal Sewer System, including discharges to privately owned catch basins which discharge directly or indirectly to receiving waters or the Municipal Sewer System, and any other direct or indirect discharge to receiving waters or the Municipal Sewer System from real property.

K. Exemptions. In addition to any exemption provided under TMC 12.08.090, development undertaken by the Washington State Department of Transportation in state highway rights-of-way is exempt from the requirements of TMC 12.08.090.D, except to the extent those requirements impose more stringent provisions as provided in Chapter 173-270 WAC, the Puget Sound Highway Runoff Program, and is subject to municipal and construction NPDES permits issued by the Department of Ecology. The Department of Transportation shall submit copies of plans for these exempt development activities to the Director.

12.08.030 Prohibitions on storm drainage, ground water and unpolluted water Sanitary.

Stormwater, groundwater, subsurface drainage, yard drainage, roof drainage, or unpolluted water, including, but not limited to, cooling water or process water, shall not be discharged through direct or indirect connection to any sanitary sewer unless approved by the Director. The Director may, but shall not be required to, approve such discharge only when no reasonable alternative method of disposal is available. If approval is granted for the discharge of such water into a sanitary sewer, the user shall pay the applicable charges and fees and meet such other conditions as required from time to time by the Director.

12.08.090 Stormwater program requirements.

A. Pursuant to the terms of its municipal stormwater NPDES permit, the City of Tacoma has implemented a stormwater management program that includes the use of the Manual. The Director of the Environmental Services Department is authorized to enforce the provisions of the stormwater management program through reasonable rules and administrative procedures, pursuant to TMC 12.08.007.

B. The following activities are regulated through the stormwater management program under this chapter:

  1. Existing discharges and land uses that discharge to the storm drains, either directly or indirectly or that discharge to receiving waters within Tacoma city limits, either directly or indirectly.
  2. Discharges from new development, redevelopment, and construction activities
  3. Stormwater maintenance activities.

C. Minimum Source Control Requirements for Existing Discharges and Land Uses. Source Controls shall be implemented by all businesses and public entities engaged in pollution generating activities.

  1. If the Director determines that discharges from an existing commercial or industrial facility cause or contribute to an illicit discharge, a nuisance, a threat to public health and safety, or a violation of the City’s municipal stormwater NPDES permit or this chapter, the Director shall require the responsible party to implement and maintain operational BMPs in accordance with Volume IV of the Manual. The Director may also require persons responsible for “track-out” conditions on paved public streets or alleys to implement and maintain operational BMPs in accordance with Volume IV of the Manual to prevent polluted matter from entering the municipal storm drain system. If the Director determines that the discharges causing or contributing to the problem cannot be adequately addressed by operational BMPs, the Director may require the responsible party to undertake more stringent or additional BMPs, which may include structural BMPs or other actions necessary to cease causing or contributing to the problem or violation.
  2. Source control activities shall be implemented to the extent necessary to prevent prohibited discharges, as described in TMC 12.08.080, and to prevent contaminants from coming in contact with stormwater. Source control actions include, but are not limited to, segregating or isolating wastes to prevent contact with stormwater; enclosing, covering, or containing the activity to prevent contact with stormwater; developing and implementing inspection and maintenance programs; sweeping; and taking management actions, such as training employees on pollution prevention.
  3. Spill prevention shall be required for all businesses and public entities, as defined in rules promulgated by the Director. Minimum requirements for spill prevention shall include developing and implementing plans and procedures to prevent spills and other accidental releases of materials that may contaminate stormwater. This requirement may be satisfied by a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan prepared in compliance with an NPDES stormwater permit for the site; the implementation of procedures for immediate containment and other appropriate action regarding spills and other accidental releases to prevent contamination of stormwater; providing necessary containment and response equipment on-site; and training of personnel regarding procedures and equipment to be used.

E. Stormwater Maintenance Activities. Maintenance of all storm drainage facilities or controls shall be required in accordance with the Manual. The proper maintenance of these controls or facilities is essential for the protection of the City’s municipal storm drainage system and the environment. Storm drainage controls or facilities are either privately or publicly owned and maintained. All storm drainage facilities that serve commercial and industrial sites are private. Storm drainage facilities or controls that are privately owned by a homeowner’s association or similar organization also are privately maintained.

  1. Maintenance and Inspection. All privately owned storm drainage facilities or controls shall be maintained by the owner, or the homeowner and/or owner association, if one is established as part of a residential or commercial development. All private storm drainage facilities shall be regularly inspected to ensure proper operation and shall monitor the facility or control as required or as set forth in the Manual. The owner, or homeowner and/or owner association shall maintain records of inspection and maintenance, disposal receipts, and monitoring results. The records shall catalog the action taken, the person who took it, the date said action was taken, how it was done, results of any monitoring effort, and any problems encountered or follow-up actions required. The records shall be made available to the City upon request. The owner, or homeowner and/or owner association shall maintain a copy of the Stormwater Operations and Maintenance Manual on site, and shall make reference to such document in real property records filed with the Pierce County Auditor, so others who acquire real property served by the privately owned storm drainage facilities or controls are notified of their obligation to maintain such facilities or controls.
  2. City Inspection. The regular inspection of privately owned storm drainage facilities or controls is essential to enable the City to evaluate the proper operation of the City’s municipal storm drainage system and the environment. The City shall have the right to regularly inspect all private storm drainage facilities to ensure they are properly operated and maintained. The City may offer an incentive program to owners to encourage the proper maintenance of private storm drainage facilities.

F. Requirement to Report Spills, Releases, or Illicit Discharges. A responsible party shall report to the Environmental Services Department any spill, release, illicit discharge, or other incident causing a discharge that has contributed or is likely to contribute pollutants to the Municipal Sewer System or receiving water immediately, but no later than twenty-four (24) hours after first becoming aware of such event. Spills shall be reported to the Environmental Services Department. This reporting requirement is in addition to any other reporting requirement imposed, pursuant to federal, state, or local laws and regulations.

12.08.200 Enforcement procedures.

Whenever the Director finds that any person has violated the prohibitions in Chapter 12.08 TMC, including any state and federal regulations the City is authorized to enforce under Chapter 12.08 TMC, the Director shall respond with appropriate enforcement action in accordance with the policies and procedures contained in Tacoma’s Enforcement Response Plan (ERP) for wastewater, or Tacoma’s Stormwater Compliance Policy (SCP) for stormwater. Enforcement response may be taken against any person who shall at any time cause or contribute to the contamination or recontamination of any waterway and/or its remediated sediments or receiving water within Tacoma city limits. As stated in the ERP and SCP, enforcement remedies may include:

A. Informal notices, meetings, or telephone calls;

B. Warning letters;

C. Notices of violation (NOV);

D. Notices of violation with civil penalties;

E. Notices of violation with corrective action orders with and without civil penalties;

F. Notices of violation with corrective action order requiring a compliance schedule/engineering report in accordance with TMC 12.08.140.E.7;

G. Stop work orders; and/or

H. Emergency suspension/termination of service and/or criminal prosecution with penalties.

The choice of enforcement action and the severity of any penalty shall be based on, among other things, the nature of the violation including the amount of damage or risk to the public, or to public resources, the compliance history of the discharger, whether the discharger cooperated with the City by correcting or making good faith attempts to correct the violation, and whether the violation is a repeat violation. Nothing precludes the City from taking escalating forms of enforcement action.

12.08.500 Surface water rates and charges.

A. Surface water charges shall be based on the square footage area of each parcel of real property and the land use designation of such parcel. The Director shall determine what rate shall apply to each specific parcel in accordance with this section, and the charge resulting from that determination and application of the other factors herein set forth. Upon request, and based on information provided by the parcel owner, the Director may, in his/her sole discretion determine that the City’s use of a surface water or storm drainage or collection system on or at a specific parcel benefits the City’s storm drain system and is grounds for reducing surface water drainage charges; except that: (1) collection from single premises and concentrating the flow; (2) collection of surface water which is piped through or underneath the surface of a property; or (3) water which flows via a natural drainage course through a property, shall not constitute such grounds.

  1. Wetlands maintained and dedicated by deed restriction for mitigation purposes may be eligible for a reduction of a surface water drainage charge under this section.
  2. Open space parcels with forested land cover, as that phrase is defined in TMC 12.08.010, shall be charged a monthly surface water rate of $5.68 per parcel in 2013, and $6.03 per parcel in 2014.
  3. Parcels contiguous with waterfront/direct discharge parcels which are under common ownership and discharge 100 percent of surface water flow to the contiguous waterfront/direct discharge parcel shall be charged the waterfront/direct discharge rate.

B. For purposes of computing surface water rates under this section, the land use designation shall be the principal activity on the parcel as listed in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS, 2002), prepared by the Statistical Policy Division of the Federal Office of Management and Budget and adopted hereby for this purpose. The land use category for each parcel will place it in one of the five following specific categories, hereinafter referred to as “Basic Categories of Development,” as to each of which the rate per month per 500-square-foot increment of parcel area shall apply:

Effective Date January 1, 2019:

Format

  • Basic Category of Development
    • Rate per Month

Waterfront/Direct Discharge Parcels:

  • Developed - First Acre or Less
    • $0.1463 per 500 ft2
  • Undeveloped - Area in Excess of One Acre
    • $0. 0616 per 500 ft2
  • Light
    • $0.4505 per 500 ft2
  • Moderate
    • $0.6300 per 500 ft2
  • Heavy
    • $0.9118 per 500 ft2
  • Very Heavy
    • $1.2210 per 500 ft2

All other Parcels:

  • Developed - First Acre or
    • $0.2899 per 500 ft2
  • Undeveloped - Area in Excess of One Acre
    • $0.0616 per 500 ft2
  • Light
    • $0.9015 per 500 ft2
  • Moderate
    • $1.2393 per 500 ft2
  • Heavy
    • $1.8224 per 500 ft2
  • Very Heavy
    • $2.4394 per 500 ft2

Effective Date: January 1, 2020:

Format

  • Basic Category of Development
    • Rate per Month

Waterfront/Direct Discharge Parcels:

  • Developed - First Acre or Less
    • $0.1493 per 500 ft2
  • Undeveloped - Area in Excess of One Acre
    • $0.0614 per 500 ft2
  • Light
    • $0.4770 per 500 ft2
  • Moderate
    • $0.6693 per 500 ft2
  • Heavy
    • $0.9572 per 500 ft2
  • Very Heavy
    • $1.2819 per 500 ft2

All other Parcels:

  • Developed - First Acre or
    • $0.2921 per 500 ft2
  • Undeveloped - Area in Excess of One Acre
    • $0.0614 per 500 ft2
  • Light
    • $0.9324 per 500 ft2
  • Moderate
    • $1.2886 per 500 ft2
  • Heavy
    • $1.8824 per 500 ft2
  • Very Heavy
    • $2.5216 per 500 ft2

C. Waterfront/direct discharge parcels are those parcels directly abutting Puget Sound with at least 50 feet of frontage, or parcels discharging, by private means, all or substantially all of their surface water directly into the marine waters of Puget Sound. For purposes of computing surface water charges, the area of each parcel shall be rounded to the nearest 500-square foot increment (the area of premises less than 250-square feet shall be set at 500 square feet) and the appropriate rate from Table III shall be multiplied by the number of such increments in the parcel. In addition to the area charge listed above, the City shall charge a monthly fixed fee of:

Effective January 1, 2019: $8.10

Effective January 1, 2020: $8.36

D. Single-family residential parcels will be assigned the “Moderate” Basic Category of Development for determination of monthly charges, except that all single-family residential parcels of 15,000 square feet or less inspected by the Environmental Services Department and placed in a different Basic Category of Development shall pay the rate assigned to such Basic Category of Development. Single-family residential parcels of 15,000 square feet or more shall pay at the moderate rate for the first 15,000 square feet and the remainder at the undeveloped rate, unless the parcel is inspected by the Environmental Services Department and placed in a different Basic Category of Development, in which case the first 15,000 square feet shall pay the rate assigned to such Basic Category of Development and the remainder at the undeveloped rate. The fixed charge will be computed only once per parcel per month, regardless of area.

E. Residential customers who qualify as low-income senior or low-income disabled under TMC 12.06.165 B shall be eligible for a 30 percent reduction from the regular storm drainage charges. The determination of low income senior and low income disabled status shall be made as set forth in TMC 12.06.165 B. Individuals must submit an application documenting such determination for review and acceptance by the Director to qualify for this reduction. The effective date for the rate reduction shall be the first day of the billing period in which the Director’s acceptance is granted.

12.08.510 Billing for storm and surface water sewerage charges.

The City shall bill for storm and surface water sewerage to each and every parcel of real property inside the boundary of the City except only as specifically excluded in TMC 12.08.530. Owners of parcels which are contiguous and have a single land use designation may receive a single bill for storm and surface water sewerage charges for all parcels by having the parcels consolidated on the Pierce County Assessor's tax rolls. Persons responsible for charges for sanitary sewerage or other City utility charges shall be the recipient of the monthly or bimonthly storm and surface water sewerage charges. Owners of vacant property or property not otherwise receiving City utility bills shall be billed for storm and surface water sewerage charges. The owner or other responsible party as listed above may request that storm and surface water sewerage charges be billed to another party by request in writing in form and content approved by the Director. Such request, designation and billing to such other person shall not release any owner or other person from responsibility for payment of City storm and surface water sewerage charges, or release any parcel from the lien for delinquent charges, interest, costs, and fees allowed herein or by applicable law.

12.08.560 Low impact development stormwater and surface water systems.

A. The rate of computation of stormwater and surface water charges applicable to premises that have on them an approved low impact development stormwater and surface water system that achieves runoff characteristics equivalent to pre-development, forested conditions, may be reduced one Basic Category of Development lower in rate of such computation than that in which the premises would otherwise be placed, as determined by the Director in his or her discretion, after taking into account the effectiveness of the system. In order to qualify under this section, the owner of the premises must have obtained the proper permits and constructed the system according to plans approved by the Director, and the system must exceed the minimum requirements that would be required by applying the City’s current Stormwater Management Manual. The owner shall be responsible for all costs of the proper operation and maintenance of such system and shall submit annual maintenance reports to the Director. The Director reserves the right to inspect all stormwater and surface water systems approved or sought to be approved under this section to ascertain that they function properly. If at any time such system fails to retain stormwater or surface water in a volume and for a period of time to justify the reduction of stormwater and surface water sewerage charges as determined by the Director by appropriate engineering standards, or if the owner fails to submit the annual maintenance reports, the Director may increase the Basic Category of Development to one which reflects the effectiveness, if any, of such system, or the Director may revoke approval of the system irrespective of prior approval by the Director of either the system or plans therefor.

B. Notwithstanding any rate reduction authorized, permitted or provided for in this section, no rate computation shall be reduced below that applicable to undeveloped land.

C. The Director may establish a pilot program to offer and evaluate the use of rebate payments of up to $2,000 per parcel to encourage residential customers to install rain gardens on their property. As part of the pilot program, the Director may also establish a one-category rate reduction to encourage customers to assist the City by maintaining City-owned low-impact development rain gardens and bioretention facilities. The pilot program established under this section will be in effect through December 31, 2014, and shall be funded by the Surface Water Utility, with rebate payments and rate reductions administered according to policies and procedures approved by the Director.

12.08.670 Violation Penalties.

Any person found guilty of willfully violating, without sufficient cause, any of the provisions of this chapter, or permit or order issued pursuant to this chapter, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, and on conviction shall be punished by a fine of up to $5,000.00, or by imprisonment for up to 365 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Each day's violation may be deemed a separate offense and shall be subject to a penalty assessment for each day during the period of violation.

(Ord. 25587 § 38; passed Sept. 20, 1994: Ord. 24307 § 7; passed Mar. 7, 1989: Ord. 23240 § 1; passed Aug. 28, 1984)

12.08.675 Notice of violation Civil penalties.

A. Notice of Violation. When the Director finds that a civil violation of this chapter has occurred or is occurring, then the Director may issue a notice of violation to the person responsible for the violation. The issuance of a notice of violation represents a determination that a violation of this chapter has occurred or is occurring. The notice of violation may include civil penalties, corrective action orders, as well as corrective action/compliance schedules under TMC 12.08.140.E.7. The determination is final unless a hearing is requested as provided for in this chapter.

Tacoma Stormwater Resources

Tacoma Stormwater Management Manual

Tacoma Municipal Code Title 12 Utilities