Surface Water Management Utility Business Plan

Surface Water Management (SWM) has completed a new business plan to improve the services we provide while keeping costs down. The purpose of the Utility Business Plan is to:

  • Identify which of our services to maintain, expand or reduce
  • Ensure that SWM services meet all state and federal legal requirements
  • Provide utility rate recommendations to sustainably fund services

New!The completed SWM Utility Business Plan is now available. To learn more:

We Value Public Input

We began work in August 2017 on the Utility Business Plan. In January and February 2018, we asked you, our ratepayers,to weigh in on how your utility charges are spent. Thank you to all who shared your feedback. With your valuable input, the Utility Business Plan was completed in fall 2018.

SWM Utility Business Plan Steps_Jul2018

Why We Need a Plan

As a stormwater utility, SWM provides a variety of services for ratepayers to keep people safe and to keep our rivers, lakes, streams, and Puget Sound healthy. This includes direct services, such as drainage complaint response, inspection and maintenance of drainage facilities, and technical advice for property owners. We also provide programs to meet state and federal mandates, such as water quality monitoring and salmon recovery planning.


The demand for SWM services has increased over the years, as has the cost of providing those services. However, SWM utility rates have remained unchanged since 2009, resulting in an imbalance between service costs and expected revenues. The purpose of the Utility Business Plan is to determine the appropriate mix of services and to develop funding options for future years.


We have already made changes to our business practices to improve organizational efficiency and save costs. Two recent examples are a new system to more easily and accurately manage drainage system inspections and maintenance, and the consolidation of three utility districts into a single utility district.


Involving the Community in the Plan

SWM's mission statement begins with "Work in partnership with the community." The engagement and participation of those affected by our Utility Business Plan are essential in developing an effective Utility Business Plan. This includes:

  • Public Open Houses: SWM held four open houses around the county in February 2018. Ratepayers who attended shared concerns and feedback directly with SWM staff.

  • Stakeholder outreach: SWM has received input from over 40 stakeholder constituencies (PDF), including other municipalities, agencies, tribes, business groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other county departments or divisions.

  • Ratepayer Survey: A survey is being conducted in January-February 2018. All property owners who pay SWM utility charges have been invited to participate.
  • Advisory Panel: A 16-member ad hoc advisory panel (PDF), composed of individuals representing various interests across Snohomish County, is providing input and recommendations for the Utility Business Plan to SWM and the Snohomish County Executive. The Advisory Panel is meeting nine times from September 2017 through January 2018.
  • County Council briefings: SWM has provided the Snohomish County Council with regular briefings on the Utility Business Plan. Videos of these Council meetings and all meeting materials can be viewed online:
  • General public comments: If you have additional comments or questions, please email our Business Plan Coordinator, John Herrmann.