Leopold proposes stormwater fee

By PAMELA WOOD Staff Writer, January 17, 2013

Anne Arundel property owners will have to pay more money toward environmental projects under a proposal that will be introduced to the County Council next week.

County Executive John R. Leopold is proposing an annual stormwater control fee of $34 for townhomes and condominiums, $85 for single-family homes and $170 for low-density rural and agricultural properties.

The fee would not be applied to vacant lands and it can be waived for property owners who prove financial hardship. Property owners would earn credits for stormwater control systems they’ve installed.

The fee, contained in legislation called the Watershed Restoration and Protection Act, would raise $26.5 million in its first year.

Stormwater is one of the most vexing sources of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.

When it rains, the water rushes across roadways, rooftops and parking lots. It picks up chemicals and other pollutants that wash into waterways.

Government officials say that while other sources of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay are decreasing, stormwater is actually a growing problem.

It’s also one of the most expensive pollution problems to fix. Many older urban and suburban areas were developed before even basic stormwater controls — such as holding ponds — were developed.

“This legislation will allow us to expand on the work we have already done to turn barren gullies into cleansing habitats,” Leopold said in the statement.

Leopold’s proposal is in response to a state requirement that Maryland’s 10 largest counties establish a stormwater fee.

State lawmakers passed a bill last year — and Gov. Martin O’Malley signed it into law — that requires the big counties to put a stormwater fee in place by July 1.

The County Council will get its first look at the stormwater fee proposal at its meeting on Tuesday.

Attempts to enact a stormwater fee failed in 2008 and 2011.

(Revised January 2013)