Pierce County Public Works is primarily responsible for reducing polluted runoff flowing to local waterways and reducing flood damage risk in unincorporated Pierce County (property outside a city or town). In 1988, the Pierce County Council established the Surface Water Management Utility. The council established a per parcel service charge dedicated to fund the services SWM provides. The SWM Utility service charge is similar to other dedicated charges for services such as sewer treatment, local fire districts, and library services.
The cost of providing SWM services is also covered by other revenue sources, including real-estate excise tax (REET) and federal and state grants.