Sun Supports Stormwater Fees Toward Bay Cleanup

An editorial in today’s Baltimore Sun reviews the ongoing debate over county stormwater fees, and concludes that the latest attack on them as a “rain tax” is unwarranted. From the Sun’s editorial page (limited free views available):

So here’s what is actually happening. In 2012, the legislature approved a new program to reduce the fastest-growing source of water pollution in this state: stormwater runoff. What may fall as ordinary rain quickly picks up such contaminants as lawn and garden fertilizers, pet waste, septic tank overflow, chemicals like motor oil, litter and chemicals produced by cars and industry.

Hard, impervious surfaces make this problem much worse. Instead of naturally filtering into the ground, the pollution is sped along to vulnerable streams and rivers and eventually, at least for most of the state, the Chesapeake Bay.

These hard surfaces, such as roads and buildings, have rapidly increased over the last two decades. Between 1990 and 2007, the amount grew by an estimated 34 percent in the bay watershed even as population grew by only 18 percent. Lawmakers finally recognized that something needed to be done — particularly if the state and local governments are to meet the Chesapeake Bay “pollution diet” goals enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Read the full editorial piece on the Sun‘s website.

MACo would offer one clarifying addendum to the observations in the editorial. MACo’s statement on the 2013 legislation dealing with implementation on the stormwater fees dealt with its application to government-owned facilities, but did not seek a retraction of the policy passed from 2012.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties