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Understanding Stormwater

FAQs, billing appeals and the different ways stormwater flows from property

Stormwater, or rainwater runoff, is rainwater that runs off land and moves away from the area where it originally falls. In urban or built up areas, it is best defined as rain that runs off surfaces where water cannot penetrate such as roofs, driveways and roads.

It is carried away by a series of pipes known as the stormwater drainage network to our natural water bodies—creeks, rivers and the harbour. Urban areas have many more impermeable surfaces or surfaces where water cannot penetrate, which generate more runoff and lead to higher stormwater volumes and discharges.

Stormwater Billing Frequently Asked Questions

Transparency, user-pay, and to better align with utility rate making principles.

Service is delivered to ensure systems are operating in all areas. For areas not on the piped system, there is a significant cost because Halifax Water does ditch cleaning and culvert replacements.

Halifax Water spends approximately $10.6 million dollars operating and maintaining stormwater service annually; and also invests capital funds annually.

In 2017/18 Halifax Water has a capital budget of $15 million dollars for stormwater service.

Yes. Many cities use impervious area as the basis for stormwater charges. Halifax Water is leading the industry in standards with respect to methods to provide precision in terms of measurement of impervious area in relation to billing.

The Site Related Flow Charge is a Halifax Water charge and is based on the stormwater that flows from each private property into the Halifax Water stormwater system. This charge is calculated based on the stormwater rate multiplied by the impervious area on the property.

The HRM Right of Way (ROW) charge is a Halifax Regional Municipality charge for the management of stormwater that comes from the public street right of way into Halifax Water’s Stormwater system. Essentially, HRM is a customer with a large impervious area (streets/roads). Halifax Council made a decision to collect this charge through Halifax Water’s billing. All customers that are billed stormwater service pay for the ROW charge. Effective July 1, 2018 the ROW charge is $40 per year.

This was one of the options considered by Regional Council. Initially it was preferred to have this charge collected by Halifax Water. In 2016/17 the municipality collected the municipalities Stormwater Right-of-Way Charge directly through the property tax bill. Collecting the charge on the property tax bill created difficulty for some types of properties such as condos, land leased communities, and water lots. As a result, for 2017/18 and subsequent years, Regional Council has opted to have Halifax Water collect the charge on its water bill.

The Halifax Regional Municipality is responsible for travel surfaces on roadways, roadway shoulders, and curb and gutters, including snow removal and damages incurred during snow removal. If a property owner has damage to their headwall or culvert incurred during snow-clearing activities, this is a municipal responsibility. Also, although Halifax Water is responsible for catchbasins, the municipality is responsible for clearing snow, ice and debris from the surface of catchbasins, as part of their street snow clearing responsibilities.

The boundary reflects the street ownership established in 2006 between the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Province. All of the municipal streets within the boundary are owned and maintained by the municipality. Keeping with the transfer of stormwater infrastructure in 2007 between Halifax Water and the municipality, Halifax Water is now responsible to maintain the municipal stormwater infrastructure associated with municipal streets within the boundary.

Find out if your property is located within the Halifax Water stormwater boundary

Halifax Water engineering staff used topographic maps and satellite imagery to create watershed boundaries, and maps showing the location of Halifax Water owned stormwater infrastructure to determine which properties receive stormwater service from Halifax Water. We are continuing to monitor and update our data.

Mid-year physical state changes would be assessed by staff based on information provided by the customer, with site visits as required.

Stormwater Billing Exemptions

Halifax Water has “exempted” any properties that do not contribute stormwater into the public system and do not have a driveway culvert. For example, a property the drains down-hill into a lake that does not drain into Halifax Water owned infrastructure and does not have a driveway culvert.

Stormwater Billing Appeals

You can appeal your Halifax Water stormwater bill if you feel you do not receive stormwater service from Halifax Water, or that you have otherwise been improperly billed.

The “appeal” process is provided for in Section 7 of the Halifax Water Regulations. The language used in the Regulations is “Notice of Objection”.

You must file a Notice of Objection with Halifax Water outlining why you believe no stormwater is discharged from your property into the Halifax Water stormwater system. You can follow the same procedure as the Formal Complaints procedure.

What if I Don't Like the Answer I Received from Halifax Water?

If you wish to appeal Halifax Water’s written reply to your Notice of Objection , a complaint may be made to the Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO).

The Dispute Resolution Officer is an independent officer (not an employee of Halifax Water or the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board) who manages regulation based on customer issues.

Understanding Stormwater Flow from your Property

Halifax Water stormwater infrastructure may be directly adjacent to your property, or they may be some distance away, in which case stormwater may have to flow overland, along roadways, or through watercourses (lakes, rivers, etc.) before reaching the Halifax Water stormwater system. Most of the properties within the boundary receive one or more of the following services from Halifax Water:

  • Stormwater from the property enters any part of Halifax Water's stormwater system
  • The property is accessed directly by a driveway that crosses over a Halifax Water culvert

Use the images below to help you determine how stormwater flows from your property:

Scenario 1: Direct Stormwater Discharge
Image showing Direct Stormwater Discharge flow from property
Scenario 2: Off-street Stormwater Infrastructure
Image showing stormwater running  from property to Off-street Stormwater Infrastructure
Scenario 3: Piped Stormwater Systems
Image showing stormwater flow from property to Piped Stormwater Systems
Scenario 4: Stormwater Discharge via Low-lying Area
Image showing stormwater flow from low-lying area
Scenario 5: Stormwater Discharge via Adjacent Property
Image showing stormwater discharge via adjacent property
Scenario 6: Stormwater Discharge via Water Course or Water Body
Image showing stormwater discharge via water course or water body