Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has submitted legislation to the County Council to create a stormwater utility fee – a new revenue stream mandated by state law (attached).
“This is a step we have to take, and it is a step that is right to take,” Ulman said when he announced the legislation with Councilman Calvin Ball, D-2. “Howard County will do its part to keep our waters clean. Uncontrolled stormwater runoff is a significant problem that has been overlooked too long.”
Stormwater runoff – rainwater that is not absorbed into the ground, but rolls along impervious surfaces, picking up debris, fertilizer and other pollutants – is a major source of pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. In 2012, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law that required larger jurisdictions to collect money and develop programs for stormwater management.
Legislation proposed would create a property fee of $7.80 per 500 square feet of impervious surface, calculated by the county’s Geographic Information Service (GIS) technology.
The owner of a home with 2,640 square feet of impervious surface would pay $39 per year (5 x $7.80). A larger home with, for instance, a longer, impervious driveway, totaling 12,540 square feet, would pay $195 (25 x $7.80).
The proposed legislation also includes one-time, partial reimbursement for improvements to stormwater treatment. Once upgrades are complete, homeowners may be eligible for an annual credit for as much as 50 percent off of the fee.
Homes built after more rigid stormwater guidelines were imposed, in 2002, will also eligible to receive a credit.
According to a statement released by the county, the fund is expected to collect $7 million in its first year with an annual reevaluation to ensure it can cover ongoing projects, which may include:
- Stream restoration
- Pond retrofits
- Bio swales
- Curb bump-outs
- Asphalt reduction
- Green roofs
- Public awareness
This article has been corrected to indicate the fee is YEARLY.