Environmental Services requests public comment on proposed changes to administrative rules for user, development, and connection charges

Public Notice
Environmental Services is proposing changes to multiple administrative rules related to user, development, and connection charges. The public can submit comments on the proposed revisions beginning April 1, 2024.
In this article

Why are we proposing these changes?

Utilities like Environmental Services regularly review their rate structures. These reviews are a best practice in the utility industry and are often called "rate studies." Rate studies look at spending and costs in comparison with other agencies. The goal of a rate study is to make sure that rates match up with the costs of service for each customer.

In 2023, Environmental Services completed a rate study. The rate study identified several changes that Environmental Services could make. These changes will improve how we charge our customers, help many lower-income ratepayers and small businesses, incentivize the development of smaller and more affordable homes, and remove certain burdensome costs for our customers.

To learn more about the rate study process, visit Environmental Services' 2023-24 Rate Study Process.

To implement these rate changes, Portland City Council passed Ordinance No. 191537 on December 6, 2023. The changes to Portland City Code (PCC) Chapter 17.36 outlined below were necessary to update the Environmental Services’ service fee and charge practices consistent with the recommendations of the rate study completed and Ordinance No. 191537. 

What changes are we proposing?

Consistent with Ordinance No. 191537, Environmental Services staff have completed updates to existing administrative rules relating to sewer and drainage system rates and charges to align implementing policies and decision-making criteria with the recently adopted code changes to PCC Chapter 17.36. In addition to the proposed rule updates, Environmental Services will retire two administrative rules related to the mandatory sewer connection program and associated line and branch charges.

The existing administrative rules being updated are listed below and have been grouped into three generalized categories: user charges, development charges, and sewer connection charges. The links provided take you to the existing administrative rules, not the proposed rules.

User charges:

Development Charges:

Sewer Connection Charges:

How to submit a comment

Environmental Services will accept public comment on proposed rule revisions from April 1, 2024 through May 1, 2024. Comments can be submitted by using the online form under each administrative rule section below.

Environmental Services will also accept comments sent by email to bescoderule@portlandoregon.gov. 

All comments must be received by 5 p.m., May 1, 2024.

Public hearing by request only

Environmental Services will hold a public hearing by request only from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. pm on April 25, 2024. To request a hearing, contact the Codes, Rules, and Manuals Team at bescoderule@portlandoregon.gov. Please specify which rule you would like to address in your hearing request. Environmental Services will cancel the hearing if no request is received by 5 p.m. on April 22, 2024. A cancellation notice will be posted on this page.

Public information sessions

Environmental Services will host public information sessions regarding the proposed rulemaking updates as follows. Registration is required.

April 17, 2024

  • 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. - General public meeting
  • 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. - Clean River Rewards discussion

Register for April 17 session

April 23, 2024

  • 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. - General public meeting
  • 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. - System Development Charge discussion

Register for April 23 session

For questions or more information, contact the Codes, Rules and Manuals Team by email at bescoderule@portlandoregon.gov.

Overview of changes

Below is an overview of changes for each administrative rule grouped by user charges, development charges, and sewer connection charges.

User Charges

Administrative Rule ENB-4.09, Sewer and Drainage System User Charges

Sanitary sewer and stormwater management user charges apply to all ratepayers who discharge to the sanitary or combined sewer system, or that receive a direct or indirect benefit from City stormwater management services. Administrative Rule ENB-4.18 describes how the bureau calculates sanitary and stormwater management user charges.

Key changes to ENB-4.09 are summarized below:

  • Stormwater management user charges will be based on a property's stormwater billable area (SBA) and equivalent service unit (ESU). These changes replace current policies that include "off-site" and "on-site" charge components.
  • Stormwater management user charges for single-dwelling unit developments will be assessed on a tiered structure based on the amount of SBA. This change replaces current policies that charge the same rate for all single-dwelling unit developments regardless of the unit's size.
  • Changes to sanitary sewer user charges update the minimum use averages for residential users.
  • Section headings have been updated and policies have been consolidated and grouped by related subject matter with the intent of improving customer readability, predictability, and overall ease of use.
  • Note: Customers with overwater structures will continue to not be billed for stormwater services for the portion of their property that is over water.

Comment on ENB-4.09

Administrative Rule ENB-4.16, Clean River Rewards Stormwater Discount Program

The Clean River Rewards Stormwater Discount Program provides an opportunity for ratepayers to reduce their stormwater management user charge by safely managing stormwater runoff on their properties.

Key changes to ENB-4.16 are summarized below:

  • Updates align Clean River Rewards eligibility so that meeting the Stormwater Management Manual requirements is directly connected to qualifying for the discount.
    • Previously, sites that managed stormwater with permitted facilities that allowed for some off-site discharges were not eligible for a full Clean River Rewards discount. Now, in alignment with the Stormwater Management Manual, permitted facilities that allow for some off-site discharges will count toward a full Clean River Rewards discount.
    • Sites discharging stormwater directly to the Willamette River must install water quality treatment in order to qualify for the Clean River Rewards discount.
  • Updates remove barriers to program participation for ratepayers with an outstanding balance due on their water, sewer, stormwater account by allowing them to register for Clean River Rewards.
  • Updates increase the amount of discount allotted to trees from 3% of the total discount to 9%. Additional changes include the ability to calculate the tree discount using tree canopy.

Comment on ENB-4.16

Administrative Rule ENB-4.32, Submeter Program

ENB-4.32 regulates the City’s Sub-Meter Program and establishes the Environmental Services decision-making criteria for measuring flows into and discharges from eligible commercial ratepayers to calculate sewer and stormwater management service charges.

Key changes to ENB-4.32 are summarized below:

  • Minor updates were made to incorporate language removed from PCC Chapter 17.36.
  • Other changes update PCC Chapter 17.36 citations.

Comment on ENB-4.32

Development Charges

Administrative Rule ENB-4.05, Sanitary and Stormwater System Development Charges

All development projects that create a new or increased demand on the public sewer and drainage system are subject to a one-time sanitary and stormwater system development charge (SDCs). This rule describes the decision-making criteria and means by which Environmental Services calculates sanitary and stormwater SDCs.

Key changes to ENB-4.05 are summarized below:

  • SDC calculations for both sanitary and storm have been simplified.
  • Updates to sanitary SDCs remove the use of the equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) as a factor in the charge and instead use drainage fixture units (DFU), this is primarily a unit conversion.
  • Updates to stormwater SDCs remove the average daily trips and frontage length components from the charge. As proposed, stormwater SDCs are based only on the net increase of site impervious area.
  • For residential developments, updates eliminate flat rates charged per dwelling unit. As proposed, residential developments will be charged by actual DFU counts for sanitary SDCs, and impervious area for stormwater SDCs. These changes will result in more stratification in SDC charges for residential development, with smaller dwellings paying less and larger dwellings paying more.
  • Updates to SDC credits include crediting a property for prior SDC contributions based on pre-existing DFU connections and impervious area removed from a property when the property is altered or redeveloped. This change replaces current policies for crediting EDUs for sanitary SDCs and removes obsolete language regarding stormwater SDC credits for riparian properties and facilities designed to retain a 100-year storm event.
  • Other changes made throughout the rule include adding or removing text to improve clarity regarding current implementation practices and to make terminology consistent.

Comment on ENB-4.05

Connection Charges

REPEAL - Administrative Rule ENB-4.18, Mandatory Sewer Connection Program

These rules were created to support the implementation of the Mid-Multnomah County Sewer Plan (MCSP) by establishing the criteria used to mandate and enforce connections to the public sanitary sewer. The MCSP was developed to provide for the abandonment of cesspools through public sewering within certain portions of the City. Recognizing that the MCSP was completed and the mandatory sewer connection program has accomplished its primary objectives, this Administrative Rule ENB-4.18 is scheduled for repeal.

No changes are proposed as this rule is scheduled for repeal.

Comment on ENB-4.18

REPEAL - Administrative Rule ENB-4.06, Sanitary Sewer Line and Branch Connection Charges

These rules support Administrative Rule ENB-4.18 by establishing Environmental Services’ criteria for calculating sanitary sewer line and branch connection charges. Consistent with the updates to PCC Chapter 17.36, which retired sanitary sewer line and branch charges and the decision to repeal ENB-4.18, Administrative Rule ENB-4.06 is proposed for repeal.

No changes are proposed as this rule is scheduled for repeal.

Comment on ENB-4.06

Administrative Rule ENB-4.28, Financial Assistance Programs

This rule describes financial assistance programs available to eligible property owners to assist with required sewer connections and to prevent disruption of service.

Key changes to ENB-4.28 are summarized below:

  • Updates to this rule focused on removing program-specific applicability statements related to ENB-4.18 (Mandatory Sewer Connection Program) and ENB-4.27 (Nonconforming Sewer Program).
  • Additional changes to this rule removed specific references to line, branch, and nonconforming sewer charges.

Comment on ENB-4.28

Administrative Rule ENB-4.17, Sewer Connection and Lateral Repair Permitting

ENB-4.17 describes Environmental Services’ permitting requirements for performing work in the public right-of-way or public sewer easements involving new sewer lateral connections (UC permits) and repairs to existing sewer laterals (UR permits).

Key changes to ENB-4.17 are summarized below:

  • Updates remove references to line, branch, and conversion charges.
  • Other changes made throughout the rule include adding or removing text to improve clarity regarding current implementation practices and to make terminology consistent.

Comment on ENB-4.17

Administrative Rule ENB-4.27, Nonconforming Sewer Conversion Program

ENB-4.27 describes the policies and decision-making criteria used when Environmental Services requires property owners to convert a private nonconforming sewer system. This rule also establishes the criteria used for calculating nonconforming sewer conversion charges.

Key changes to ENB-4.27 are summarized below:

  • The decision-making criteria for calculating sewer conversion charges has been removed consistent with the updates to PCC Chapter 17.36.
  • Updates improve clarity by providing more specificity regarding the rule's applicability.
  • Other changes made throughout the rule include the addition or removal of text to improve clarity regarding current implementation practices and to make terminology consistent.

Comment on ENB-4.27


Manuals, Code and Rule Team

Environmental Services