Rates and FAQs

Stormwater Drainage Rates

Stormwater Management fees became effective in May 2008 and apply to all properties located within the incorporated City limits. Each parcel is charged a stormwater drainage fee based on classifications within the Stormwater Management ordinance, Parts 18: Chapter 1: 18-107.



Water Meter Size






Less than 2 inches



2 or more inches

The fee is included on the Tahlequah Public Works Authority (TPWA) utility bill.

Exemptions include: 

  • Properties owned by or otherwise granted or dedicated to the City of Tahlequah, Tahlequah Public Works Authority, and other beneficiary trusts of the City.
  • Entities utilizing low impact development (LID) techniques will be accepted at the discretion of the administrator upon application for a waiver.
  • Undeveloped properties with no impervious surface coverage.
  • Outside City limits users of City water service that are surrounded by the corporate limits of the City shall pay the inside rates.

Why is there a stormwater drainage fee on my utility bill?

Stormwater fees are necessary to maintain the public stormwater drainage system and represent an equitable way for the community to share the cost of a public service. The City of Tahlequah’s stormwater drainage fee provides long-term funding and the budget is consistent in times of administration changes. The Stormwater Program must develop a dedicated revenue stream; the stormwater drainage fee provides a reliable and fair method for collecting monies in order to allow the City to provide increased and improved stormwater management services.

The City of Tahlequah’s stormwater drainage fee is the result of an unfunded mandate from the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act. Within the Clean Water Act, the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit is held by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. Permit regulations require the City to obtain an Oklahoma Pollution Discharge Elimination System General Permit OKR04. The Phase II permit authorizes the City to discharge stormwater from the Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System into the Scenic Illinois River.

Stormwater runoff is a major contributor to water quality degradation; therefore, the City must reduce water pollution to the maximum extent possible. The runoff water is untreated before it enters our local waterbodies; therefore, the Stormwater Program is responsible for ensuring best management practices are in place to reduce pollution. Pollution prevention measures include public outreach and education, water quality monitoring, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site erosion control BMPs, enforcement actions, stormwater map, land acquisition within floodplain areas, and retrofitting developed areas for pollution control.

How are stormwater funds spent?

In an effort to protect environmental and human health, the stormwater management program funds are intended for, but are not limited to, the following purposes:

  • Costs of development, administration, and implementation of the stormwater management program including operation costs, capital expenses, salaries and consulting fees;
  • Public education and outreach;
  • Stormwater pollution prevention activities;
  • Illicit discharge detection and elimination;
  • Inspection, monitoring, surveillance, and enforcement activities;
  • Abatement, remediation, and restoration activities;
  • Field sampling and testing equipment, supplies, and services;
  • Laboratory testing equipment, supplies, and services;
  • Engineering and GIS equipment, supplies and services;
  • Storm sewer system development, mapping, upgrades, and repairs;
  • Retrofitting developed areas for pollution control;
  • The acquisition by gift, purchase, or condemnation of real and personal property, and interests therein, necessary to construct, operate, and maintain the municipal storm sewer system;
  • Other equipment, supplies, and activities which are reasonably required;
  • A master drainage plan, watershed management plan, or related drainage studies created to lessen stormwater runoff impacts, protect water quality or prevent flooding;
  • Short or long term financing for flood or hazard mitigation programs related to stormwater management payable to or through the general fund, the trust authority or agency funds of the City; and
  • Matching funds for state or federal grants that relate to stormwater management.

Are storm sewer and sanitary sewer systems the same thing?

No, storm sewer and sanitary sewer systems are not the same thing. In times past, sewage and stormwater runoff were conveyed within the same piping system which often resulted in manholes and storm drains leaking raw sewage onto the land during high precipitation events (i.e., flooding). In an effort to decrease water pollution, many cities separated the two systems to create the Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). The term “storm sewer” is somewhat misleading because we generally relate the word “sewer” to what we flush down a drain in our home or business.

Sanitary sewer systems carry waste that is treated at a waste water treatment plant prior to discharge into a waterbody. The storm sewer system conveys precipitation runoff which is not treated and drains directly into a waterway. For example, the water from a kitchen sink goes to the waste water treatment plant before being discharged into the Illinois River; whereas, stormwater runoff impacted by pollution enters into a storm drain before being discharged directly into the Illinois River.

 What is the stormwater drainage system?

The stormwater drainage system collects, conveys, stores or otherwise affects stormwater or surface water. It includes a network of streets, drainage ditches, underground pipes, culverts, and open channels designed for drainage control which discharges runoff to a receiving waterbody (Town Branch Creek, Ross Branch Creek, Pecan Creek, or the Illinois River). Runoff characteristics are impacted by pervious surfaces, such as a field of grass, which allows stormwater runoff to infiltrate into the ground. In comparison to impervious surfaces, such as rooftops and paved/concreted areas, which drain runoff at a faster rate leading to water quality and quantity issues in our local waterbodies.

Will the City fix drainage problems on private property?

The City cannot legally perform maintenance or work on areas within private property or property owned by other governmental agencies. Private drainage disputes between adjacent private property owners are the responsibility of the property owners.