Counties Consider TMDL & MS4 Assistance Proposal at #MACoCon

L to R: Mary Gattis, Bruce Williams, Fredrika Moser, and Jennifer Dindinger

Returning county officials offered their input on a proposal by the Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) to provide meaningful technical assistance to counties and municipalities as they struggle to meet their Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit goals at the MACo 2019 Winter Conference. The panel, We’re Here to Help: Technical Assistance for the Bay TMDL and MS4 Permits, occurred on Wednesday, January 2. 

LGAC Coordinator and Director of Local Government Programs Mary Gattis noted that LGAC has heard for years that local governments need more technical assistance and resources and LGAC has aggressively pushed for a meaningful solution. LGAC convened a forum in 2018 to create a draft proposal. Some of the feedback from the forum included the need for both general and specific assistance and the need for relationship building with assistance providers.

LGAC Chair Bruce Williams outlined the specific LGAC proposal, including the establishment of: (1) a network of circuit riders and; (2) a Technical Assistance Collaborative. The Collaborative would assist with specialized services that go beyond what a more generalist circuit rider could provide. One challenge relates to funding – how to ensure that low capacity jurisdictions can contribute in non-financial ways.

Sea Grant Maryland Director Fredrika Moser discussed one possible example that could work in Maryland through the Sea Grant’s Watershed Restoration Specialists. Moser described how the Sea Grant worked and its structure.

 University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension Watershed Restoration Specialist Jennifer Dindinger described the Sea Grant’s current assistance directive – the Watershed Extension Collaborative. The Collaborative aligns federal, state, university, and local resources to streamline implementation of nonpoint source projects. Dindinger highlighted some of the results from the Collaborative, including securing $7.1 million in community grants and treating about 135,000 square feet of impervious surface.

 Audience members asked numerous questions about TMDL and MS4 implementation and offered their views on the LGAC proposal.

 Anne Arundel County Watershed Protection and Restoration Program Administrator Erik Michelsen moderated the program.