From Harford County government:
By now, you have most likely heard of the new state-required stormwater fee that 10 Maryland counties, including Harford, must start collecting in the near future. What this means for Harford County taxpayers is that you will now have to pay an annual fee that will go toward funding stormwater infrastructure and remediation practices in the county.
This fee is the result of years of lobbying by environmental interest groups in Annapolis, who contended that local governments in Maryland were not doing enough to treat runoff that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Last year, the General Assembly passed House Bill 987, which now requires us to charge the stormwater fee, and the bill was signed into law by Governor O’Malley.
While I share their desire for a clean and healthy Bay, as you probably do too, I question the priorities of those in Annapolis who feel that no price is too steep to pay for only a marginal improvement in Bay quality.
Consider that stormwater and urban runoff from Maryland are the source of around 5 percent of the sediment and 2 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into the Bay. Are the benefits to the Bay worth the strain that the implementation of these improvements will cause for our working families and the young adults trying to buy their first homes?
We know that the Susquehanna River, which flows through New York and Pennsylvania, is responsible for nearly 27 percent of the sediment, 41 percent of the nitrogen and 25 percent of the phosphorus in the Bay as a whole, and those percentages are significantly higher if you only consider the portion of the Bay that is in Maryland rather than Virginia.
Time and again, Maryland’s leaders have not only bowed to pressure from environmental agencies and interest groups, but they have raised the bar even higher on themselves, much to the detriment of Maryland taxpayers.
There is no question that stormwater upgrades are necessary and that best management practices related to stormwater can improve water quality, but these things do come at a significant cost. We estimate that meeting our stormwater requirements could cost us as much as $90 million between now and 2017.
While we will comply with the state law that forces us to collect the stormwater fee, as well as work diligently toward meeting our federal stormwater discharge requirements, we will continue to work on behalf of our taxpayers and businesses in trying to mitigate the effects of this fee and others like it coming down the pipeline.
David R. Craig
Harford County Executive