Revised Summary and Update on County Stormwater Fees

Conduit Street provided a summary of county efforts to adopt local stormwater fees and a history of the stormwater fee legislation.  However, since that time, more counties have either finalized or modified their stormwater fee proposals.  Therefore, MACo is providing a revised summary of county stormwater fees, updated as of June 24.  Since that time, Carroll County has adopted a resolution creating a Watershed Protection and Restoration Fund to meet its stormwater mitigation requirements.  The Fund will be funded by various sources, including county general operating funds, capital funds, and grants.  The County maintains this alternative funding will constitute its stormwater fee.  The County issued a press release on June 27 further explaining its position.

Additional coverage of the Carroll County decision provided by the Carroll County Times and the Baltimore Sun.

Other Recent News Articles on County Stormwater Fees

A June 26 Washington Post article discusses the Prince George’s County fee proposal and the County’s belief that their approach to stormwater mitigation may spur “green” industry jobs in the County.

Adam Ortiz, acting director of the county’s environmental resources department, estimates that the county will need 40,000 storm-water devices — rain barrels, rain gardens, water-absorbing sidewalks — to meet the mandate. He said the program would help improve water quality in streams and rivers and potentially spur the development of a “green” industry in the county.

“We see this as a massive jobs program,” he said.

A June 23 Capital Gazette article discusses Anne Arundel County’s roughly $400 million plan to reduce stormwater pollution and lingering concerns over the County’s stormwater fee.

Now that a dedicated fund has been established to reduce stormwater pollution, Anne Arundel County is set to proceed with a roughly $400 million plan to address the problem, with half the money targeted for the Patapsco River watershed. …

The plan has been in the works for more than eight years. Detailed maps with layers of data — such as impervious surfaces, and the results of on-the-ground inspection of pipes, outfalls, road crossings and streambed conditions — have been developed for each of the county’s 12 watersheds and more than 300 subwatersheds.

The plan includes retrofitting stormwater ponds and drainage outfalls, as well as restoring miles of streambeds damaged by years of runoff.

Conduit Street has previously reported that several Howard County officials have proposed potential modifications to the County’s adopted stormwater fee.

Finally, a June 24 Baltimore Sun op-ed argues that even the current stormwater fees are inadequate to ultimately address water pollution caused by development.

The science makes it clearer every year that  past a fairly low level of development, water quality in a given watershed  begins to decline, regardless of stormwater control programs.

Native brook trout feel the impacts when as little as one half of 1 percent  of the watershed around their streams is paved. That’s the equivalent of a  two-lane highway through an otherwise forested square mile of land.

In general, fish health and diversity are OK up to about 5 percent developed,  or impervious; but by 10 percent most waterways have reached a tipping point,  and by 15 percent they are clearly degraded.

And it’s not clear you can go home again once a watershed passes from rural  to suburban/urban. A recent Maryland study of urban streams found that while  expensive restoration projects could make them look prettier, they weren’t any  healthier than unrestored streams.

It’s not just little streams. Similar links between development and the  aquatic health of the Chesapeake itself emerge in studies by the Smithsonian  Environmental Research Center.

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