From Friends of Harford:
Please read the email we received from Chesapeake Bay Foundation against Harford County Bill 13-38:
Dear Friend of the Bay:
On November 5, the Harford County Council will hold a public hearing on Bill 13-38, which would repeal Harford’s Watershed Restoration and Protection Act and put Harford in violation of state law and in danger of losing state and federal funding for polluted runoff problems. Most importantly, Harford would have NO funding to do the planned projects that the County has identified as crucial to improve the County’s rivers, streams and infrastructure. We urge you to lend your voice and tell the Council to vote NO on Bill 13-38!!
Polluted runoff contaminates our local rivers and streams and threatens local drinking water. Water running off of roofs, driveways, lawns and parking lots picks up trash, motor oil, grease, excess lawn fertilizers, pesticides, dog waste and other pollutants and washes them into the streams and rivers flowing through our communities. For example, the Bush River, a favorite crabbing spot for many and historically one of the rivers with the highest water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, is now listed as an “impaired water” under the Clean Water Act, due in large part to polluted runoff. Today, polluted runoff is the only single source of water pollution still on the rise.
The problem of polluted runoff can be solved locally through simple, proven solutions that work by slowing down and absorbing much of the polluted runoff. Some of these solutions include planting trees, planting vegetation around streams, restoring stream beds, and using rain barrels and rain gardens. These solutions not only reduce pollution and improve water quality, but also make our communities more beautiful, reduce flooding, and create jobs.
However, these solutions cost money, which is why the state passed a law requiring the most populated counties and Baltimore City to pass a fee to fund polluted runoff solutions. These funds are collected by the county and remain in the county, paying for in-the-ground projects that are proven to make the water healthier, reduce flooding, and make communities more attractive.
Harford County set their own fee based on what it will cost them to meet their requirements to clean up local waters and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. However, due to some concerns over cost to residents and businesses, the Harford County Council reduced that fee by 90% and set up a Task Force to further examine the costs of cleaning up polluted runoff and to give recommendations by November 2013. Yet, even before the Task Force completes their evaluation and provides recommendations, County Executive David Craig wants to repeal the minimal fee. This is despite the fact that Harford County is relying entirely on the funds raised by the fee to complete their polluted runoff work, and those funds are already listed in the County Budget
Please send a letter or email, or make a call, to your County Councilmembers telling them to vote NO on Bill 13-38!! Come make your voice heard on November 5!!
Email the Council!!
Billy Boniface, Council President – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dion F. Guthrie, Council Member – email@example.com
Joseph M. Woods, Council Member – firstname.lastname@example.org
James McMahan, Council Member – email@example.com
Chad Shrodes, Council Member – firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard C. Slutzky, Council Member – email@example.com
Mary Ann Lisanti, Council Member – firstname.lastname@example.org
Attend the Hearing!!
Tuesday, November 5, 6:30 PM
212 South Bond St.
Bel Air, MD
Alison Prost, Esq
Maryland Executive Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
6 Herndon Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21403
Read Friends of Harford’s planned testimony (below) on Tuesday, November 5, against Bill 13-38.
Friends of Harford opposes Bill 13-38, which eliminates the Stormwater Remediation Fee.
We hope everyone recognizes the dangers caused by stormwater runoff — it throws away much-needed water, damages property, and destroys streams and the Chesapeake. The damage has been occurring over many years due to inadequate control of stormwater in the past. The purpose of the Stormwater Remediation Fee is to fix these past mistakes and begin restoring our watersheds – our streams, rivers and the Bay.
In HB 987 Stormwater Management – Watershed Protection and Restoration Program, Maryland directed Harford and 9 other jurisdictions to develop local plans to fix local stormwater problems, and to establish a fee-based fund to pay for the remediation and restoration work. Allow us to respond to some common questions about this Stormwater Remediation Fee.
Question: Why are only 9 counties plus Baltimore City required to impose this fee?
Answer: Because these 10 jurisdictions are the ones that dump the most stormwater into the Bay.
Impervious surfaces — roads, parking areas, roofs, etc — change rain into contaminated, destructive runoff. Impervious surface is proportional to population density. These 10 have the highest population densities, meaning they also have the highest amounts of impervious surface. Therefore they create the most stormwater runoff — which harms the Chesapeake.
The less densely developed counties have more unpaved ground to absorb stormwater and keep it out of streams and the Bay. They, too, may be required to act in the future.
Question: Why should Harford reduce its impact on the Chesapeake when neighboring states aren’t doing their part?
Answer, part 1: They are being forced to do their part, as are we. Just as the EPA assigned requirements to Maryland, so too it has assigned requirements to Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York. There’s no question other states were responsible for much of the past damage to the Chesapeake, and they will have to start fixing their problems too. Since the EPA allows states to decide how best to meet their assigned targets, the approach used by the other states may differ from Maryland’s.
Answer, part 2: To refuse to deal with a problem just because your neighbor won’t is childish and self-destructive. ALL states impacting the Bay will be required to correct their past mistakes and inadequacies, and their people will have to pay for it.
It is wrong to disobey the law because we might get away with it. Would anyone here dump their trash in their neighbor’s yard because they “can get away with it”?
Question: Why don’t all counties have the same fees?
Answer: Each jurisdiction is unique. So instead of ordering all counties to do the same things, Maryland worked with MACo to let each local government choose the most effective and efficient ways to meet their performance requirements. Although there is a great deal of uncertainty at this point about the specific work to be done and what it will cost, the bottom line is that all counties will have to meet their performance objectives.
Mr. Craig understood the magnitude of the problem and estimated that $125 per house per year would be needed to pay for it. We trust that he had a good basis for these proposed fees, and while they deserve scrutiny, they should not be ignored.
Question: Why should Harford County residents pay a fee when Aberdeen, Bel Air, and Havre de Grace don’t?
Answer: The state hasn’t yet ordered small jurisdictions to start because it is focusing on the biggest problems first. All 3 municipalities combined have less than 16% of the population of Harford County. However, in the near future these municipalities will have to develop plans and charge fees.
We believe the county and municipalities should work together, planning for and funding stormwater remediation projects like we do with schools, public water systems and public sewage systems. In fact, we wonder why hasn’t this been done already, since we believe the county and cities are clearly allowed to work together.
Runoff is destructive. We must fix our own past mistakes so they don’t ruin our future.
The Chesapeake Bay is OUR bay. We border both the Chesapeake and the Susquehana River, one of its major water source.s How shameful it would be if Harford were to now turn its back and walk away from our responsibility to protect them.
Friends of Harford applauds this Council for its earlier wisdom and foresight in amending the Executive’s Bill 13-12 which established the program and its fees . Thanks to your efforts, we will discover what work is needed, how much it will cost, and what fees are needed to pay for if. You also created a lockbox to keep monies from being diverted elsewhere, and insuring both fees received and money spent will be transparent to all.
You did the right thing then to protect Harford County. We ask you to do the right thing now by rejecting this bill and letting the program work under this Council’s watchful eye.
Citizens Guide to Bay Restoration. For those who want to play a role in restoring bay health comes the Citizens Guide to Bay Restoration. The new, reader-friendly guide from the Maryland Department of Planning dishes up dozens of strategies for residents, developers, farmers and others interested in helping reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff and sediment build-up. Read it on-line (title link), or download it as pdf.