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Local Governments May Assess "Reasonable" Service Charges for Stormwater Facilities Owned by the Federal Government


August 8, 2012 by Pat Mason
Category: Storm and Surface Water Management

A significant case decided last May resulted in a major victory for local governments in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.  The case determined that federal agencies must pay local governments “reasonable service charges” for stormwater pollution control.  Some federal agencies had been paying such fees, but others had refused to pay based on the principle of sovereign immunity of the United States government.

The case also provides guidance concerning how to interpret what is a “reasonable” charge under federal law.  It is not clear yet whether this decision will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

There is an excellent summary of this decision and its implications for local governments prepared by Alice Ostdiek, attorney for the Foster Pepper law firm, published in the Association of Washington Cities’ City Vision magazine, July/August 2012.  See the article, Fee For Service: A recent ruling nets cities a stormwater victory.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Pat Mason

Pat is recognized throughout Washington State as a highly trusted resource on municipal law. He regularly counsels local governments on public records, open public meetings, and just about any other municipal issue that comes up.

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