Stormwater Utility

Primary Goals: Stormwater Runoff Water Quality and Minimize the Risk of Flooding

In 1987, Congress amended the Clean Water Act to require the Environmental Protection Agency to develop regulations for permitting of stormwater discharges into the waters of the United States. In November 1990, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permit regulations became effective, requiring that counties and municipalities obtain permits for stormwater systems in order to regulate the quality of stormwater discharges. The Town of Jupiter is currently cooperating with the many other Palm Beach County governmental entities in this NPDES permit effort.

In addition to causing flooding, rain runs off streets, parking lots, and concrete driveways and carries pollutants into our waterways. Stormwater running off paved areas tends to be polluted with oils, greases, and heavy metals. Stormwater runoff from residential areas carries fertilizers, pesticides, and other wastes. Much of this runoff goes directly into our canals, creeks, the Loxahatchee River, and the Intracoastal Waterway, thereby raising water quality concerns. The creation of a stormwater utility establishes a dedicated funding source to help tackle these and other stormwater management issues. A stormwater utility is just like an electrical or water utility, in that it charges service fees. These fees are used for the operation and maintenance of stormwater infrastructure to control flooding and improve water quality as required by the EPA’s NPDES stormwater permit program.

It is important to realize that even the best maintained and functioning drainage systems can not totally prevent flooding. Flooding will always occur during periods of heavy, prolonged downpours and hurricanes. However, most homes are built at elevations that will not flood during a 100-year storm (a storm with a 1% probability of happening in a given year). Residential streets are generally designed to withstand three-to-five year storms without flooding and commercial streets to withstand 10-year storms. Major arterials are designed to withstand at least 25-year storms, although many have much higher design standards. This means that during 100-year or even 25-year storms, neighborhood roads will likely flood.

Jupiter’s stormwater management systems operate throughout its municipal boundaries. They consist of naturally occurring components, such as sloughs, rivers, and wetlands, and manmade components such as swales, canals, weirs, inlets, and retention ponds, that are used to control and regulate the quality and volume of stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff consists of rainwater that runs off land surfaces during storms, carrying oil, gasoline, fertilizer, and other debris. By slowing the flow of water and allowing settling, filtration, and percolation, Jupiter’s stormwater management system not only reduces flooding, but also reduces the amount of pollutants in local waters.

Jupiter, with all its water assets – the ocean, the inlet, and the Loxahatchee River – is vulnerable to flooding. Jupiter also has amazing “land” assets that reduce the possibility of flooding. The area’s nine largest parks and designated natural areas total 1,126 acres of open land. This land is part of our stormwater management system – natural areas that store rain water and protect the community and recharge the groundwater aquifer.

Additional Flood & Flood Protection Information