Pittman Welcomes ‘No Net Gain’ Standard For Impervious Surfaces

The Severn River Association (SRA) and the Magothy River Association have submitted a joint policy letter to Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, urging the county to adopt land use and environmental policies with a goal of no net increase in impervious surface within the Severn and Magothy watersheds.

AACounty Exec Pittman. Photo: Lisa Borre

Dual Purpose Of No-Net-Gain Standard

The purpose of the proposed no-net-gain policy is twofold. It would:

  1. Discourage bulldozing what remains of our undeveloped woods and meadows, a practice that is not only environmentally destructive but also creates long-term infrastructure rehabilitation costs borne by taxpayers, and
  2. Enhance the economic value of our existing impervious surface by encouraging redevelopment of abandoned or otherwise under-performing impervious land, such as failing malls and old shopping centers or blighted buildings.

During his address to SRA at its annual meeting on May 21, County Executive Steuart Pittman specifically acknowledged this joint SRA-MRA policy letter.

He praised SRA and MRA for raising this issue, which he described as intriguing, and he urged its members to stay engaged with his office and their other representatives.

Pittman noted, in particular, that the county will soon be submitting legislation to strengthen Anne Arundel County’s forest conservation laws, a policy that would help contain the growth of impervious surface.

Why Focus On Impervious Surfaces?

Impervious surface – roads, roofs, parking lots and driveways – causes rain to run off more violently into streams and waterways rather than soaking into the ground.

This heavy stormwater runoff then carries a variety of pollutants — heavy metals from brake pads, motor oil, fertilizer, nutrients and dirt — and dumps them into our waterways, destroying stream beds and damaging culverts.

This type of runoff is the only pollution category that is steadily increasing in our county.

If more than 15% of a watershed is covered with impervious surface, restoring the attendant waterway becomes very difficult and expensive.

Both the Severn and Magothy watersheds currently contain over 20% impervious surface.

Pittman also announced a plan to hire more county inspectors to ensure that any new development adheres to existing stormwater and environmental protection laws.

Click here to listen to Pittman’s talk before the Severn River Association.