Frederick, Other Counties, Baltimore City Submit Plans To Reduce Stormwater Pollution

The plans  describe  how they will pay for it.

Baltimore, Md. (KM)  Nine counties in Maryland, including Frederick, and Baltimore City, have submitted their financial assurance plans to the Maryland Department of the Environment for curbing stormwater pollution. “These aren’t the regulatory permits. They’re the plans to demonstrate that the county will have the sufficient resources to find the activities to prevent the pollution to the streams and waterbodies in the Chesapeake Bay,” says MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles.

It’s a requirement under the Watershed Protection and Restoration Program, which was revised in 2015. It repealed a mandate that forced local jurisdictions to collect an stormwater remediation fee, often called the “rain tax,” to pay for curbing polluted  runoff. Instead, the counties and Baltimore City are given some flexibility to create their own plans to reduce stormwater pollution which eventually ends up in the Bay.

“This is a work in progress. This is the first year, the first step. We congratulate Frederick County, and the other counties, and the {Baltimore} city for putting the effort into describing how they’re going to make sure they have the resources,” says Secretary Grumbles. “And it takes a team effort. It’s a team effort, federal, state,local and private sector engagement.”

The Secretary says the plans have been reviewed by MDE. “We made specific comments, suggestions to all of the counties for their financial assurance plans: how they could improve upon those practices, increase the likelihood that they will meet their permit requirements, and get the funding they need,” he says. “We’ll be following through with them.”

Even though the “rain tax” was abolished, Grumbles says that doesn’t mean the state will be lax when it comes to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and improving water quality. “We are moving forward. We’re working with local jurisdictions. We’re not backing away from clean water goals and requirements. That’s so essential to helping the environment and increased quality of living,” he says.

MDE says Maryland is a recognized national leader in urban stormwater restoration work. Through mid-2015, more than 8,000 acres were restored under Maryland local jurisdictions’ municipal stormwater permits, and Maryland jurisdictions are on track to restore more than 34,000 acres by the end of the five-year permit term.

Under the law passed by the General Assembly, jurisdictions will need to submit an annual financial assurance plan over the next five years to determine whether they have sufficient funds to pay for stormwater pollution mitigation. MDE must also issue a yearly report which states whether the local plans provide the resources needed to control polluted runoff.

“You don’t to have increase rates or taxes to meet your clean water obligations if you get more innovative and collaborative, use nutrient trading,” says Secretary Grumbles. “Mechanisms that are more cost effective and holistic in protecting the watershed.”

By Kevin McManus