Deer Creek Watershed Association Supports Stormwater Management Bill; Suggests Further Fee Reducation For Landowners Who Control Stormwater

March 30, 2013 by steve 

The following testimony was presented to the Harford County Council in support of bill 13-12 with an amendment, by Richard Norling, President, Deer Creek Watershed Association.

The Deer Creek Watershed Association, Inc., supports passage of bill 13-12, and suggests an amendment that we believe will make the bill even more effective.

Before people began paving roads and parking lots, and constructing large buildings, rain water had many opportunities to soak into the ground instead of rolling over the surface directly to rivers and streams. Some of the water that soaked into the ground went deeper and replenished the aquifers that our water wells tap into. The water that stayed near the surface did migrate slowly towards rivers and streams, but tree roots along the way pulled the nutrients out of the water as it passed by.

Today when it rains much of the water flows quickly over impervious surfaces that prevent it from soaking into the ground. When the water leaves the pavement, the heavy flows pick up particles of soil, causing erosion. When the heavy flows all pour at the same time into a stream, the result is flooding, gouging of the streambanks, and undermining of large trees until they fall into the stream. That happens now in Deer Creek, Winters Run, and to some extent probably every creek and stream in Harford County.

The heavy currents of stormwater running across the surface of the land carry not just soil particles, but also the nutrients and other pollutants that harm the Chesapeake Bay. That is why a few years ago the state revised the way stormwater is managed in new developments, to give the water more opportunities to soak into the ground.

The bill you are considering tonight responds to a state requirement to begin improving stormwater management in areas that were built before current stormwater regulations were in place, and to start repairing past damage.

The state law has two ways of spurring action:

First, the state law requires our county to create a local watershed protection and restoration fund, with fees on properties that have impervious surface. Money in the local fund would be spent on stormwater management and watershed restoration projects as described on pages 8 and 9 of Bill 13-12.

The second way the state law spurs action is the incentive in the state law for individual property owners to act on their own initiative. The state law requires the county to establish guidelines for reducing the annual fee for properties that have advanced stormwater best management practices or agricultural activities, and the county’s guidelines are also to account for the costs and level of treatment provided by stormwater management facilities funded and maintained by the property owner. Reduction of the annual stormwater remediation fee can be a powerful incentive, motivating property owners to act on their own initiative instead of waiting for the county to solve the problem.

Bill 13-12 as proposed limits the potential reduction to no more than 50% of the annual fee (page 5, line 11). The 50% limit is not required by state law, and removing the limit would provide flexibility for the county to allow a greater reduction in the fee – and therefore a greater incentive for landowners – for properties that effectively control stormwater.

In summary, the Deer Creek Watershed Association supports Bill 13-12 and believes the amendment we suggest will make the bill even more effective in reducing flooding and the flow of pollution towards the Chesapeake Bay.

Suggested Amendment to Bill 13-12:
On page 5, in line 11 strike “REDUCE, UP TO 50%,” and insert in lieu thereof “REDUCE”.

Note: the text of the state law is online at

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