Stormwater Fees

Since 2005, with the cooperation of area municipalities, the SWU has a rate structure, which provides GREATER EQUITY to property owners. All property owners pay fees based on their impact on the water resources of Beaufort County, including properties that are exempt from taxes.

In 2015, Beaufort County adopted a revised rate structure and fee increase. The Beaufort County service fee rate will be based on impervious and gross area at an 80/20 allocation; storm water service fee categories; any State agricultural exemptions or caps; an account administrative fee, countywide jurisdiction operation maintenance and jurisdictional operation, maintenance and capital project fee. The rates are set by the Beaufort County Stormwater Rate Study adopted August 24, 2015. 

In 2016, the City of Beaufort and the Town of Port Royal adopted a similar rate structure.

In 2017, the Town of Hilton Head adopted the revised rate structure.

In 2019, the Town of Bluffton adopted the same rate structure. 

The gross area charge is calculated in equivalent units as follows:

First 2 acres $X
For every acre above 2 acres and up to 10 acres 0.5 x $X
For every acre above 10 acres, and up to 100 acres 0.4 x $X
For every acre above 100 acres 0.3 x $X

Gross area charge unit = (X)

Note: Law S453 (2009) does not allow any increase in fees for agricultural, forestlands and undeveloped lands that qualify for an Agricultural Use Exemption. This only applies to unincorporated Beaufort County and not the municipalities. Fees are based on the rate structure and unit costs in effect in 2009.

Impervious area stormwater service fee categories.

The appropriate categories for determining Single Family Units (SFUs) will be as follows:

  SFU Calculation (SFUs equal)
Tier 1 Single-family Unit (≤2,521 square feet) Dwelling units x 0.5
Tier 2 Single-family Unit (2,522 to 7,265 square feet) Dwelling units x 1
Tier 3 Single-family Unit (≥7,266 square feet) Dwelling units x 1.5
Mobile Home Dwelling units x 0.36
Apartments Dwelling units x 0.39
Townhouses Dwelling units x 0.60
Condominiums Dwelling units x 0.27

Impervious area x 4,906 sq. ft.*

*Commercial billed at a rate of 1 SFU per 4,906 square feet or a portion thereof

For Tax Year 2020 the following Unit rates apply:

Beaufort County City of Beaufort Town of Port Royal Town of Hilton Head Island Town of Bluffton
Administrative Fee $19.00 $5.00 $5.07 $24.00 $5.00
Impervious Area Unit (IA) $71.00 $95.00 $43.50 $105.00 $85.00
Gross Area Unit (GA) X = $10.00 $35.00 $11.43 $21.00 $25.00

For the Tax Year 2017, the Town of Hilton Head Island adopted a rate structure similar to Beaufort County, City of Beaufort and the Town of Port Royal.  The Town of Bluffton adopted this rate structure for Tax Year 2019.

Bill amounts for residential and non-residential accounts are determined by the same Impervious area stormwater service fee categories shown above.

Vacant Land under the old rate structure was charged various runoff rates based on parcel category and whether land is disturbed or undisturbed. Fees are based on an assumed 5% or 1% respectively of impervious cover per acre multiplied by the SFU rate for the parcel’s governing jurisdiction. The fees historically ranged from $5.55/Acre to $47.39/Acre.

Fees for Agricultural Use Exemption are calculated similarly to vacant land with the rate being 1/10th of the fee calculated. These fees historically ranged from $0.44/Acre to $4.74/Acre.

In addition, accounts within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Towns of Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Port Royal, and the City of Beaufort will pay a Countywide Infrastructure Fee directly to Beaufort County.  This will be a shown as a separate line item on the tax bill.  The following chart is the rates established for tax years 2019-2023.

FY 2019-2020

FY 2020-2021

FY 2021-2022

FY 2022-2023

FY 2023-2024

Countywide Infrastructure (CWI) Cost Share

City of Beaufort

$ 6.10

$ 6.28

$ 6.48

$ 6.68

$ 6.68

Town of Port Royal

$ 4.35

$ 4.48

$ 4.62

$ 4.76

$ 4.76

Town of Bluffton

$ 26.26

$ 27.02

$ 27.85

$ 28.72

$ 28.71

Town of Hilton Head Island

$ 6.73

$ 6.92

$ 7.14

$ 7.37

$ 7.37

User fee adjustments may be made when a landowner can demonstrate to the SWU that it has incorrectly determined the amount of impervious surface. 

User fee credits (partial rebates) are available for non-residential property owners who can demonstrate operation and maintenance of private stormwater management systems consistent with the SWU program that result in a cost savings to the SWU.

See Stormwater Credit Manual for more details.

Please contact the SWU Office at (843) 255-2805 for adjustments and credits or questions regarding your fee.

Beaufort County Tax Notice Items of Interest:


SW Municipal/District = Current Stormwater Municipality Fee or Unincorporated Stormwater Fee

SW County Fee = (CWI) Countywide Infrastructure Fee

Gross Area Calculations:

Unlike property taxes, stormwater fees are not based on the value of the property. Because stormwater fees are based on measured areas of impervious cover, an expansive database of mapped information is maintained in the County’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Computer software and processes compare impervious area mapping in relation to property lines to determine measurements. As a result, the Stormwater Utility uses gross acreage determined by the parcel line dataset, not by the deeded acreage provided on Tax Notice. If you would like further explanation, call the utility office.