Volume III, Number 7
eMDE is a monthly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state.
Maryland’s “Stormwater Management Act of 2007,” signed by Governor Martin O’Malley, became effective on October 1, 2007. The Act requires that Environmental Site Design (ESD), through the use of nonstructural best management practices and other better site design techniques, be used wherever possible for new development and redevelopment. Charged with implementing the Act, MDE is developing guidance including changes to the regulations and the current model stormwater management ordinance.
Although stormwater management historically has been financed with general revenues from property taxes, reliance on property taxes is often inadequate. Since 1973, jurisdictions across the country have begun implementing stormwater utilities as an alternative source of revenue. Today over 400 stormwater management utilities are in operation nationwide (“Stormwater Utility Fees” by New England Environmental Finance Center, May 2005 Report).
The primary objective of MDE’s report is to evaluate current options for stormwater management fee systems available in Maryland. The State has recognized the need to establish dedicated fund sources since the early 1990s. In 1992, the General Assembly enacted enabling legislation that allows localities to developed a “system of charges” to finance stormwater programs. To date, two local jurisdictions have developed a stormwater user charge. The City of Tacoma Park implemented a Stormwater Utility, and Montgomery County recently developed a “Water Quality Protection Charge” that appears on individual property tax bills and pays for the structural maintenance of stormwater facilities. Also, Prince George’s County uses an Ad-Valorum Tax that provides funding for many of the County’s environmental programs and capital improvements.
MDE continues to support the development of a “system of charges” by local governments to provide the funding needed to meet local obligations under State and federal law. MDE offers financial assistance through low interest loans involving the State Revolving Loan Fund with a delayed payment plan contingent upon starting a “system of charges.” Technical assistance is also provided through informational papers such as “Financing Stormwater Management: The Utility Approach,” “Potential Revenues from Stormwater Utilities,” “Model Ordinances for Stormwater Utility,” to assist in the development of a regional or watershed Stormwater Utility. Because the public often views a “system of charges” as a tax, implementing dedicated funding option can be extremely difficult. However, if overall efforts toward restoring and protecting surface waters, the Coastal Bays, and Chesapeake Bay are to be successful, State and local stormwater management programs must be properly funded to meet the requirements of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System municipal permit, and Total Maximum Daily Load programs.
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