Throughout the month of May 2011, city of Houston residents should have received a notification of their anticipated monthly Drainage Utility Charge as part of the Rebuild Houston initiative.  Rebuild Houston was approved by voters in November 2010 and gave the city authority to impose a fee on homeowners, renters and businesses to improve Houston’s drainage infrastructure.  Residents should expect to begin receiving an actual invoice with their July 2011 water bill.

Now that residents know exactly how much they must pay per month, some may wish to protest the city’s calculation of their monthly fee.  The time to protest, however, is quickly running out, and Houston REALTORS® may wish to pass on this information to their clients, along with information on the appellate process.

Every resident has the right to appeal their drainage fee, but they only have 60 days after receiving the drainage fee notification letter to potentially change the amount they owe.  If a resident does not file a protest within 60 days of receiving the notification letter, the resident is considered to agree to the city’s measurements and won’t get another chance to appeal the measurements until he or she adds or subtracts impervious surface area to the property.

The drainage fee is based on the impervious surface on a resident’s property.  The city is using an estimate of the impervious surface based on information provided by the Harris County Appraisal District and satellite mapping technology.  If residents think the measurements are wrong, they may wish to hire a surveyor to get precise measurements.  Otherwise, residents may take their own measurements to determine the exact size of the impervious surface.

If the resident’s measurements are different from the City’s estimate, and they can show a reduction in their annual Drainage Utility Charge that is at least $3.00 annually or 2% of the total fee,  such resident may request the city to correct the drainage fee.  This request is called a “Request for Verification and Correction.”   Residents can make the request via the city’s officially designated website:

Residents may also make the request by filling out the Request for Verification and Correction form (that was mailed with the Notification Letter), and sending it to by mail, to:

City of Houston, Department of Public Works & Engineering
P.O. Box 4244
Houston, TX 77210-4244

For more information on the Rebuild Houston initiative, residents can visit