MDE Opposes suggested $18M cost shift to counties of ground water study

The Maryland Department of the Environment stated its opposition during its departmental budget hearing to a proposed cost shift to local governments of two important ground water studies already underway.  The department contacted MACo directly to inform them of their opposition and requested dissemination of their budget statement, excerpts of which are listed below:

The Maryland Department of the Environment does not agree with the recommended reduction. Despite the increasing pressure on the State’s general fund, the Governor recognizes the critical importance of basic scientific information to ensure that Maryland continues to have a sustainable fresh water supply and has elected to maintain level funding for these important studies in FY 2011. These studies are essential to proper management of the State’s current and future water supplies.

A reliable source of clean fresh water is a fundamental requirement for both good public health and economic health. Between now and 2030, Maryland’s population and demand for fresh water are projected to
increase by 15 to 20 percent State-wide, with higher rates in the faster growing parts of the State. These studies provide critical scientific information to ensure that our State’s fresh water sources are properly
managed to maintain adequate supplies to support our existing population and meet the demands of continued economic growth and development. These studies have been developed by MDE in cooperation with the Maryland Geologic Survey and the U.S. Geologic Survey as recommended by the Governor’s Advisory Committee on the Management and Protection of the State’s Water Resources. The Advisory Committee was established by the Governor at the request of 72 legislators following the drought of 2002, which caused many water systems in Maryland to run short of water and required the imposition of State-wide water use restrictions. It is only a matter of time before the State will face the next drought. In the mean time, demand for water is continuing to increase, particularly for public supplies, thermoelectric power generation and agricultural irrigation.

It is not feasible for local governments to pay for these studies. Aquifers cross many boundaries and allocation of expenses would be problematic. Local governments also have no source of funding for this type of scientific assessment work. This is a State responsibility.

MACo appreciates the department outreach, and the resistance to the suggested cost shift. (See previous Conduit Street coverage of this issue)

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