Stormwater Policies and Regulations

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Kirkland’s Storm & Surface Water Division ensures the proper maintenance and operation of all public and private drainage systems within the city. These drainage systems are constantly evolving as new development and redevelopment occurs. We are also responsible for protecting the water in our creeks, wetlands, and lakes from stormwater pollution. 

NPDES Stormwater Permit

City of Kirkland has a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater permit effective August 1, 2019 through July 31, 2024. The Washington State Department of Ecology issues the permit and is responsible for enforcing the federal Clean Water Act in this state.

The permit goal is to control water pollution and reduce water quality problems in our creeks and lakes. The full permit can be viewed at Ecology’s website: Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit.

Kirkland's planned actions to meet the NPDES permit requirements are documented each year in a Stormwater Management Program Plan: 2024 Stormwater Management Program Plan(PDF, 3MB)

The documents listed below have been prepared as part of Kirkland’s compliance with the Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit:

Surface Water Master Plan

Kirkland's Surface Water Master Plan is a formal document adopted by City Council. The plan guides the Surface Water Utility on projects and strategies to manage the City's surface water and stormwater to:

  • Protect the environment,

  • Meet the needs of the community,

  • Follow state, federal, and local regulations.

The goals of the Storm & Surface Water Division are to:

  • Reduce flooding in our streets and neighborhoods
  • Improve water quality in our creeks, lakes, and wetlands
  • Protect and maintain Kirkland's stormwater infrastructure
  • Improve habitat conditions for fish and wildlife

The 2023 Surface Water Master Plan was adopted by Kirkland City Council on April 4, 2023. This Plan assesses our current programs, identifies ongoing commitments, and identifies priorities for the next 6 - 10 years.  

Learn more about the plan update process

The purpose of this Plan is to develop a guide for the Utility that outlines capital projects, strategies, and resources needed to accomplish City and Utility goals. An implementation plan and accompanying rate study provides funding options. Specifically, the following objectives were identified for the Plan:

  • Identify and prioritize surface water capital projects for implementation, including emphasis on aging and failing infrastructure.
  • Identify staffing and equipment needs to support both engineering and maintenance and operations of Utility infrastructure.
  • Identify and incorporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging principles into Utility operations.
  • Identify and prioritize policies, strategies, and programmatic actions to be implemented by the Utility, especially those that can be accomplished collaboratively with other departments that have shared interests.
  • Evaluate organizational and CIP delivery methods of comparable western Washington jurisdictions for a benchmarking comparison to Kirkland.
  • Conduct financial analysis/rate study to inform funding options and implementation schedule of identified Utility needs.


2023 Surface Water Master Plan Full Document(PDF, 12MB)

Appendix A: Outreach Summary(PDF, 3MB)

Appendix B: Watershed Report Cards(PDF, 2MB)

Appendix C: Supplemental Regulatory Program Information(PDF, 313KB)

Appendix D: Staffing Analysis Summary(PDF, 902KB)

Appendix E: Pipe Evaluation Summary(PDF, 459KB)

Appendix F: Staff Interview Summary(PDF, 669KB)

Appendix G: Benchmarking Comparison(PDF, 849KB)

Appendix H: Programmatic Action and Equipment Summary Sheets(PDF, 4MB)

Appendix I: Capital Project Supplemental Information(PDF, 1MB)

Appendix J: Utility Review Summary(PDF, 1MB)

Appendix K: Crosswalk Summary Discussion(PDF, 776KB)

Appendix L: CIP Summary Sheets(PDF, 4MB)

Appendix M: Financial Study and Rate Analysis(PDF, 290KB)

Appendix N: Totem Lake SMAP(PDF, 5MB)

Stormwater Code

The Kirkland Municipal Code Chapter 15.52 outlines the Surface Water utility, requirements for development activities, water quality and flood protection, inspection, and enforcement. 

 Jump to Specific Code Sections:

Surface Water Management Fee

The Storm & Surface Water Division is funded by the Surface Water Management Fee charged to property owners. This fee appears on the property tax statements of developed parcels in Kirkland. The fee funds activities required under the City's Municipal Stormwater Permit. Activities include water quality monitoring, pollution prevention, and the maintenance of Kirkland’s stormwater system.

Fee Structure

Surface water utility rates are based on “Equivalent Service Units” (ESUs). One ESU is equal to  approximately 2,600 square feet. This is the average impervious area on a single-family parcel in Kirkland.

The surface water utility rate is $20.74/month per “Equivalent Service Unit” (ESU).

Single Family Residence Fee Structure

Single-family residential properties are charged a flat rate per year for one ESU.

Surface Water Management Fee = $20.74/month (flat rate) plus 7.5% utility tax = $267.55/year.

Commercial and Multi-Family Property Fee Structure

Commercial properties are assessed a charge based on the actual amount of impervious surface area they contain (buildings, parking lots, etc.).

$20.74/month per “Equivalent Service Unit” (ESU). One ESU is equal to 2,600 square feet (ft2) of impervious surface.

Surface Water Management Fee = # ESU x $20.74/month plus 7.5% utility tax

Sample Calculation
An apartment complex has 10,000 ft2 of impervious surface (parking lots, walkways, rooftops, etc.). The surface water management fee would be:
10,000 ft2 /2600 ft2 = 3.85 ESU
3.85 ESU X $20.74 per month per ESU = $79.85 per month + 7.5% utility tax = $1,030.07/year

Fee Discounts
  • Undeveloped properties. Undeveloped properties are not charged a surface water management fee.
  • Low-income senior exemption. If you are a low-income senior as determined by the King County Assessor and you own your personal residence, you may be exempt from the surface water management fee. Only residential properties are eligible. Call the King County Assessor’s Office at 206-296-3920 to verify your eligibility.
  • Rainwater harvesting rate reduction. Discounts are also available for new or remodeled commercial buildings that install a qualified rainwater harvesting system. See Policy L-3(PDF, 138KB) for details.

Drainage fees do not appear on your Kirkland utility bill but are collected with your King County property taxes. The fee is shown on your tax bill as SWM (Surface Water Management) or Drainage. You can view your drainage fee by entering your property tax ID in the King County Property Tax Information System

Stormwater Development Policies and Plans

Pre-Approved Plans and Policies are to be referred to by any individual or company designing, constructing or maintaining water, sewer, storm drainage, or street improvements in the City of Kirkland. The Pre-Approved plans include sections related to low impact development (LID) and stormwater drainage facilities.

 Pre-Approved Plans and Policies:

Underground Injection Control (UIC) Stormwater Management Program

Kirkland operates their Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program as part of a holistic Stormwater Management Program. The UIC Program rule, chapter 173-218 WAC, is the regulatory authority for UIC wells in Washington. The UIC program rule applies to Class V wells that receive stormwater.

UIC Class V wells are structures built to allow fluids to flow into the ground, usually by gravity.

An injection well is designed and built:

  • Deeper than the largest surface dimension.
  • To contain an assemblage of perforated pipe.
  • As an improved sinkhole.
  • As a chamber or vault designed to capture and infiltrate stormwater.


Kirkland’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Permit does not authorize stormwater discharges to groundwater through UIC wells. However, if the overflow or surface discharge from a UIC well drains to the MS4, then the MS4 Permit does authorize the overflow discharge and the conditions of the MS4 Permit directly apply. UIC wells designed to manage the all stormwater runoff for all storm events should have no stormwater runoff entering the MS4. 

To prevent redundancy between the UIC program rule and the Kirkland’s NPDES Stormwater Permit, the UIC program rule allows Kirkland, who owns or operate Class V UIC wells, and are also covered under the NPDES Stormwater Permit to satisfy UIC requirements by the presumptive approach, pursuant to 

Additionally, to use the presumptive approach to meet UIC Program rule authorization for municipal Class V UIC wells, Kirkland applies a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) that complies with our NPDES Stormwater permit, to the areas served by their municipal UIC wells.

The UIC Stormwater Management Program details include:

  • Register all UIC wells, including existing and new UIC wells with Ecology.
  • Complete the well assessment for UIC wells in use prior to 2/3/2006, if not already completed.
  • Site, design, construct, operate, and maintain new UIC wells according to the specifications throughout the King County Surface Water Design Manual. Fulfill the source control and operation and maintenance requirements for new and existing UIC wells by:
  • Operation and maintenance of existing wells according to the specifications of the manual.
  • Providing source control activities (including targeted education and outreach) that are well-suited for the land uses associated with your UIC wells.
  • Providing Illicit discharge detection and elimination programs in areas served by their UIC wells to prevent pet wastes from contaminating stormwater and to control other sources of pathogens.