As reported by the Capital Gazette, County Executive Steve Schuh announced a plan to utilize private sector partnerships as part of the county’s effort to make inroads on watershed improvements required by the state and federal government. The county will set aside $5 million in this year’s budget to fund the best pitch for a project that would reduce the amount of pollutants seeping into the county’s waterways.
From the Capital Gazette,
That could mean a plan to upgrade failing stormwater drains or to transfer properties from septic systems to public water and sewer. It could also be an entirely new approach to stormwater improvement. Department of Public Works Director Chris Phipps said the county is looking for innovative ideas that “aren’t even identified necessarily in our program.”
Schuh said the county will issue a request for proposals within the next few weeks.
“Our hope is that by working with the private sector we can get more bang for our buck and get a lot more project work done for the same amount of money it would take government to do those sorts of projects,” he said.
The $5 million grant, which is funded by stormwater fee revenues, is part of the $253 million scheduled for watershed improvement projects in Anne Arundel over the next six years. Schuh also allotted about $1 million in general fund money in this year’s budget to pay for stormwater management upgrades.
While those figures represent the largest investment in watershed projects in the county’s history, they only account for a little more than a quarter of the $900 million that local officials estimate it will cost to meet looming state and federal water quality goals.
Phipps said the county must remediate 5,900 acres of impervious surface by 2019 in order to meet state requirements for renewing its stormwater permit. So far, watershed projects have treated about 1,700 acres.
The county also has until 2025 to significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment — some of the top pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay — in its stormwater runoff. The Bay’s health has improved since the Environmental Protection Agency established this pollution “diet,” according to an annual report card released earlier this year.
If the county doesn’t meet these guidelines, it risks losing federal funding or seeing regulations on its bodies of water grow.
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