Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (March 4, 2013) – Governor Martin O’Malley, along with the Secretaries of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Director of the Maryland Environmental Service (MES), today hosted a discussion with elected officials and public works and planning staff from Maryland counties and Baltimore City to discuss innovative and cost-effective practices to manage stormwater runoff as part of the cooperative effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay and our local waterways.

The roundtable discussion, which kicked off the Maryland Stormwater Symposium, also included information on State funding that is available for projects that help to protect and restore the Bay and local waterways. Governor O’Malley asked speakers to present case studies in innovative and collaborative efforts to manage stormwater runoff, along with information on applicable Maryland regulations.

“Events like the Maryland Stormwater Symposium offer an excellent opportunity to bring together stakeholders involved in Chesapeake Bay restoration,” said Governor O’Malley. “If we are to reclaim the Bay by 2025, we must work with one another to encourage innovation to reduce stormwater pollution and restore our streams and rivers. This event is an important part of that effort."

The Maryland Municipal League and Maryland Association of Counties hosted the all-day event at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis. Governor O’Malley, MDE Secretary Robert M. Summers, DNR Secretary John R. Griffin, MES Director James M. Harkins and local elected officials participated in the morning roundtable discussion.

Secretary Summers provided an update on the Maryland’s Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan, the State’s science-based blueprint to restore the Bay and local waterways. He emphasized the crucial role of best management practices to reduce stormwater runoff in that plan, which addresses pollution from all sectors. The plan is designed to comply with the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, also known as the Bay TMDL or “pollution diet.”

“The Bay is the geographic and economic center of our State,” said MDE Secretary Summers. “Our public and economic health depends on clean water – it’s absolutely critical to our future.”

DNR Secretary Griffin discussed the Watershed Assistance Collaborative and the 2010 Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, which can provide financial assistance for projects that manage stormwater runoff.

"Investing in stormwater management has benefits far beyond nutrient and sediment reductions. Responsibly managing polluted runoff protects and revitalizes our living resources, increases access to recreation, and creates and retains green jobs. The Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, the Innovative Technology Fund, and the Watershed Assistance Collaborative are three exciting tools that provide financial and technical assistance to help our communities address stormwater.”

MES Director Harkins provided examples of projects that can reduce stormwater runoff, including work that his agency has done.

“Maryland Environmental Service is here to help Maryland's counties and towns meet this challenge in the most cost-effective ways possible,” said MES Director Harkins. “We have invested in resources that provide support from stormwater structure installation through maintenance and monitoring, and we look forward to helping them in any way we can."

After the roundtable discussion, speakers presented information to local officials and staff on cost-effective stormwater management practices completed by local governments. Information was also provided on financial management, possible funding and on Maryland regulations that require Environmental Site Design to the maximum extent practicable to control stormwater from new developments and redeveloped properties.

The event included exhibits and information from government and non-profit stakeholders, including MDE, DNR, MES, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland State Highway Administration, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Parks and People Foundation, Capital Restoration and the Environmental Finance Center.

Polluted stormwater runoff is a significant source of pollution to local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Storm drain systems collect rainfall from rooftops, parking lots, streets and other paved or covered areas and ultimately discharge to streams and rivers. Along with rain water, the pipes convey sediment, nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), bacteria, fuel, trace metals, salt from road de-icing and trash.

Maryland has several statewide programs that reduce stormwater pollution. The Stormwater Management Act, signed by Governor O’Malley in 2007 requires all new development and redevelopment projects to include state-of-the-art stormwater pollution controls.  For areas that are already developed, municipal stormwater permits – sometimes known as MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) permits – serve as the regulatory backbone for controlling stormwater pollutants and meeting Bay restoration goals. Also, the 2012 General Assembly passed a bill requiring jurisdictions regulated by an MS4 permit to adopt and implement local laws or ordinances necessary to establish watershed protection and restoration programs. These programs must include a stormwater remediation fee and a local watershed protection and restoration fund.