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NACWA Weighs In With Department of Justice of Washington, D.C. Stormwater Fee Dispute


April 30, 2010

Nathan Gardner-Andrews, (202) 833-2672
NACWA’s Counsel


NACWA Weighs In With Department of Justice of Washington, D.C. Stormwater Fee Dispute

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) sent a letter today (see attached) to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in reference to a recent decision by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the General Services Administration (GSA) that federal facilities in the District of Columbia are exempt from paying impervious area charges to the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DCWASA) related to stormwater runoff.   The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently reviewing that decision.  The letter challenges the determination of GAO and GSA that DCWASA’s stormwater charge constitutes a tax and not a fee for service, thus exempting the federal government from payment, and argues the federal government’s refusal to pay the stormwater fee is not only legally unjustified but also conflicts with the Obama Administration’s public commitment to improve the water quality within the Chesapeake Bay and nationally.  NACWA’s letter highlights the economic problems created when the federal government refuses to pay its fair share of stormwater services, thus shifting the costs onto local ratepayers at a time when many communities and households are facing unprecedented economic pressures.  The letter calls on DOJ to find that the stormwater charge issued by DCWASA is a fee and not a tax, and further direct all federal facilities within the District of Columbia to pay the fee as billed by DCWASA.  Additionally, the letter encourages DOJ to extend this directive nationwide, instructing all federal facilities across the country to pay stormwater fees charged by local stormwater utilities.


NACWA represents the interests of more than 300 public agencies and organizations that have made the pursuit of scientifically based, technically sound and cost effective laws and regulations their objective. NACWA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim more than 18 billion gallons of wastewater daily.

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