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Ulman Proposes New Stormwater Management Fee

The fee, proposed to satisfy a new state law, would pay for mitigation projects to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

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. 

There are various ways to improve the permeability of residential areas, including detention and retention ponds, permeable driveways and the use of water-capturing devices such as rain barrels.

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
  • Maintenance
  • Public awareness

This article has been corrected to indicate the fee is YEARLY.

anon January 25, 2013 at 01:20 AM
Seriously?? OK, so all the new development like on College Avenue, where old forests right in the Patapsco watershed were clear cut and all the hills obliterated - the cause of the problem- they get a credit. And long time residents who are already suffering from this overdevelopment have to pay the full fee. That we know will be wasted on worthless academic studies that will never ever benefit the Bay.
djp952 January 25, 2013 at 05:49 AM
Wait, wait, wait ... every drop of water that happens upon any impermeable surface under my control ultimately ends up on a *permeable* surface under my control. I imagine the lion-share of home-owners in HoCo are in the same situation, how exactly is the county going to be able to accurately determine the proper fees for this ridiculous proposition? This is completely impossible to determine with any reasonable amount of certainty for the typical home-owner, and therefore should never have been introduced. I already pay hundreds of dollars per year to deal with the crap runoff from other people's homes that ends up continuously damaging my yard, why the hell should I have to pay some tithe to the County/State? They should be paying ME, the soil I'm already taxed on is cleaning up the mess the zoning board and people like Ken Ulman continue to foster around here. "WTF" doesn't even begin to describe this, this is borderline criminal and will cost the county more than it would ever bring in. The bay is nice, I'd like to see it stay nice, but I assure you there is not a drop of water that I am capable of controlling that makes it within 25 miles of the bay .. and now I have to prove that at my own expense, don't I? Thanks, Ken .. you suck.
Paul Verchinski January 25, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Columbia residents have already paid millions of dollars for stormwater management. This is adding insult to injury. All land under the Columbia lien should be exempt from this "fee".
Anita January 25, 2013 at 02:11 PM
First there was no bay fee on my water bill. Then the bay fee on our water bill added $7.50. Now it is $15.00 per quarter. Where is that money going? Our Governor has taken money from the bay fund for other non related projects. I too love the bay but until we get the neighboring states to belly up an fix their runoff, Maryland will suffer. We are already over taxed as it is. With the added tax from the Obama administration on people's pay checks, the burden is too high. Not every homeowner can afford this. We are on a fixed income. Enough already.
Linda Lapinski January 25, 2013 at 03:05 PM
you do that in Maryland also. Study!!!! We study alot in Michigan and not a lot of rapid response actions are ever put into place.
r marcin January 25, 2013 at 03:48 PM
$39 a month? $195 a month? that cant be right patchy
djp952 January 25, 2013 at 05:11 PM
According to the Sun article its per year, which calms me down significantly (although I still don't like it). Per month would add up to much much more than $7 million. It has to be per year.
Brandie Jefferson January 25, 2013 at 06:31 PM
What an error - it is a YEARLY fee. It has been edited.
Andrew Metcalf (Editor) January 25, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Sorry, r marcin, you are correct the fee is YEARLY not monthly, I stand corrected, and apologize.
bill bissenas January 25, 2013 at 06:39 PM
If you keep electing Democrats, they will continue to take your property and liberty. Always.
letstalkaboutit January 25, 2013 at 07:38 PM
We have been using nature as our free sewer for too long. Now it's time we clean things up. And it's not just the bay, its the streams in HoCo that will see the most immediate improvement.
letstalkaboutit January 25, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Take a look at a watershed map. The water does indeed make it to the bay, one way or the other, with anything we as humans add to it. But the bay is not the thing...water in your own back yard and keeping the soil that you paid for when you bought your house...that's what it's all about.
letstalkaboutit January 25, 2013 at 07:51 PM
As for the water fee...that goes to fix wastewater treatment plants that are releasing untreated human waste into Maryland's streams...streams that run near our homes and through our neighborhoods. During Sandy alone, one HoCo treatment plant released approximately 20 million gallons of largely untreated waste into adjoining streams. As for neighboring states...they don't affect the water quality in the Little Patuxent and Patuxent Rivers. We do.
anon January 26, 2013 at 02:21 AM
Assessing unfair fees on existing homeowners who were here before the massive overdevelopment is not going to help one bit. Government will just waste the money and nothing will be done because there is no accountability. You saw the rezoning posters today? Acres and acres to be converted from forest and grassland to parking lots, pharmacies and restaurants. Ok, so they get to pay a fee although sound like they get a reduced fee. But, what for, now that the damage is done? How about requiring more green space in the plan? Oh no, that would reduce the taxes and fees.
letstalkaboutit January 26, 2013 at 12:44 PM
There is absolute accountability for reduction in stormwater related pollutants. Each county has developed a watershed implementation plan where the county describes what is intends to do to reach very specific, scientifically determined, reductions in pollutants. Stormwater management is only one of the elements of that plan. The state, and the county, are held accountable for achieving the goals they specify. Google "Howard County WIP" to learn more.
Concerned Elkridgean January 26, 2013 at 01:01 PM
And Howard County is suppose to be one of best counties. The county and Maryland tax you to death.. So they can pay salaries like $250,000 to our supertindent of schools and 170,000 to director of public works.. $160,000+ to our county exec. Ken Ulman who has been hand picked for governor... Yup... They don't want us to have a life just work harder so we have less time to fight them.
George Young January 26, 2013 at 09:22 PM
TAX TAX TAX AND MORE TAX. And Ulman would likem to be Governor; ar you kidding me?????
Paul Coon April 11, 2013 at 08:21 PM
I think anon is referring to accountability of the money not of the results. How much of this new tax actually goes toward "fixing" the perceived problem. Where is the study that "proves" the impact of non-permeable surfaces as compared to permeable surfaces. Even permeable surfaces only absorb so much water (if given enough time) - most of the water from a big thunderstorm will end up in the bay regardless of what kind of surface it falls on. I thought the biggest problem was farmland and their fertilzers and animal waste - most farmland is permeable but they have a lot of runoff regardless. It's hard not to suspect that we are being baffled with BS so the gov't can take more money from us. What's next solor refraction/absorption taxes?
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