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Stormwater Fee Bill Withdrawn, May Return Later

Councilman Chris Trumbauer says there was no clear support from his colleagues for the bill at this time.

After Tuesday's Anne Arundel County Council meeting, the future appears uncertain for a proposed $35 stormwater fee. But the bill's sponsor promised it wasn't the end of the proposal.

Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D-Annapolis) pulled his bill seeking the stormwater fee on Tuesday. The bill would have funded between $10-15 million annually towards stormwater improvements across the county to address enhanced guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency, commonly referred to as the Chesapeake Bay's pollution diet.

Trumbauer said there wasn't a clear show of support among the other councilmen, so he chose to withdraw it for now, with plans to reintroduce it in a few months.

"This problem isn't going to go away. This is not a defeat of this issue. This is just making sure that we take the time to get it right," Trumbauer said.

The councilman said he would be using the next few months to work alongside the county's Department of Public Works and other agencies to further improve the bill before reintroducing it at a later date.

Another factor in the bill's delay was a desire to hear what kinds of stormwater measures the state will fund, Trumbauer said. Those discussions have been ongoing with state legislators, and Trumbauer said he expects to know more in a few months.

"Part of the reluctance of my colleagues to support this is the uncertainty of what's going to happen at the state level," Trumbauer said. "I get that. But I think there's a strong possibility that the need for this issue will actually emerge stronger after the general assembly makes its decision."

The bill's co-sponsor, Councilman Dick Ladd (R-Broadneck), reiterated that this bill would help begin paying for the estimated $950 million in improvements needed to meet the enhanced demands on water quality in the Chesapeake Bay around Anne Arundel County.

"The problem is both here and now. It's a matter of safety to people on the ground in addition to people on the water," Ladd said. "If we can't get started on a project of this scope, we at least want to make sure that we're not continuing to add or increase the backlog of repair and maintenance work on existing infrastructure."

Following Ladd's comments, Trumbauer withdrew the bill, hearing no complaints from his fellow councilmen.

When the bill was first introduced in December, it was criticized by the county executive's representatives, received only mixed reactions from other council members, 

Trumbauer said that their support will help make this bill better in the end.

D. Frank Smith January 06, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Because the EPA upped the ante with their new pollution diet. http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2011/11/23/bay-pollution-diet-plans-costly-for-anne-arundel/
Tom H January 06, 2012 at 11:02 PM
John, We all wish it was as easy as rocket science to Save the Bay. The Bay is an incredibly complex "organism" that is not fully understood. The more you learn about it and how it's being restored, the more you'll see that it would be a total cess pool by now if not for the amazing American Ingenuity that has gone into cleaning it. Ingenuity that has led to countless new businesses who now export these technologies to countries that believe it makes good economic sense not to spoil your own natural resources. You make it sound like the Bay is either "Saved" or "Not Saved" and if it's "Not Saved" by now, we should stop trying. I'm glad you weren't heading up NASA during the early days of the Apollo program... which started off with some pretty dramatic failures.
John Thomas January 06, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Tom H. --- you still did not answer my question: Why after 20 years has the State of Maryland not learned its lesson and kept the Bay clean ? I will never eat fish from the Bay even after it is ever supposedly "cleaned ".
Erik Michelsen January 07, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Frank, You're correct. The bay plates raise about $5 million for the whole state annually for community scale projects. It's a great program, but this bill would have raised $10-15 million for large scale projects in Anne Arundel County alone.
Erik Michelsen January 07, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Because no one has been willing to step up and pay what it is really going to cost to clean it up. Plus, we keep adding additional pollution. Just because people have been trying to save the bay for 40 years doesn't mean there have been adequate resources to do so. There haven't been, by a longshot.
LaRue January 07, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Ageed, all the so-called save the bay groups will never stop. If they report progress then.....the money stops.
LaRue January 07, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Won't let my dog swim in it either!
Tom H January 07, 2012 at 01:14 AM
John-- It's not just MD's lesson to learn. We haven't been exactly united states when it comes to the clean up. VA & PA contribute 66.8% of the Nitrogen loading and 68.1% of the Phosphorous loading and have been historically slow in making progress. MD contributes 23.7% & 18.3% and PA contributes 46.2% & 28.5% respectively. Funding differences to meet the 2011 nutrient reduction milestones where dramatic... Maryland $774M, Pennsylvania $67.5M. Huge victories have been made reducing industrial/chemical and phosphorous pollution into the Bay. Nitrogen is still a big problem. In my opionion, the problem is that lobbysist have done such a good job keeping legislators in all the Bay watershed states from passing laws that have real and immediate penalties when pollution reduction goals are not met. They're just dragging out the inevitable (at great additional cost). Rockfish and crabs are making good comebacks (and are delicious when paired together)! If you won't eat fish from the Bay after it's been "cleaned," then please don't research cattle or hog production or tilapia for that matter.
CM January 07, 2012 at 04:30 AM
There are older developments in the county not served by stormwater management devices but since 1984 regulations have been in place that required all development to construct and maintain stormwater devices. There are over 1500 stormwater ponds in the county and nearly ten thousand smaller devices that are located on private properties around the county. Thousands of acres of developed property have managed runoff controls. I'm disappointed that the "environmental community" considers past millions spent as if nothing has been done or spent to prevent further degradation of the bay. I'm also disappointed that despite the exectutives branch's promise that there will be no new taxes he appears to be allowing the Department of Public Works to work hand in hand with Trumbauer to craft a new tax increase.
John Thomas January 07, 2012 at 01:01 PM
tom h : cattle, hog, and tilapia are not sucking in heavy metals every day like the fish in the Bay are. I agree with LaRue's comment : Ageed, all the so-called save the bay groups will never stop. If they report progress then.....the money stops.
Tom H January 07, 2012 at 03:27 PM
John: So you're in favor of tougher penalities and criminal sentences for polluters dumping heavy metals into the Bay? I live on the water and have had to have surgery to remove a Waterman's Disease infection from my elbow. I wouldn't think the Bay is improving, but I read a lot of reports from "so-called save the bay groups" about how things are improving. I believe it. I don't think there is a big conspiracy to brag about improvements that aren't really happening. I believe in science, technology and American Ingenuity. Try googling ""Chesapeake Bay" progress" and read all about it. Here are some... "6 percent improvement in health since 2008," water quality "2 percent increase from 2008," fish & shellfish "9 percent increase from 2008" http://www.chesapeakebay.net/status_bayhealth.aspx?menuitem=15048 And the "Chesapeake Bay Watershed 2009-2011 Milestones Interim Progress Assessment/Fact Sheet - June 2011" details all kinds of progress in great detail... 296% of goal for septic improvements, 120% of goal for wastewater Nitrogen removal and 216% of goal for Phosphorous removal. Just saying they don't report progress doesn't make it true. PS Regarding cattle & hogs, I was referring to steroids and hormones.
John Thomas January 07, 2012 at 03:55 PM
yes i am in favor of tougher penalties and criminal sentences for polluters. how did you get a disease on your elbow ? Tax the polluters, not the average citizens
Rusty Gowland January 07, 2012 at 05:09 PM
The rivers in AA County are contributors of pollution to the open bay - not the other way around. The quality of water in these rivers is worse than and not improving like the bay and the "polluters" are us.... people that have homes with rooftops and downspouts, fill septic tanks, own dogs, drive cars and use parking lots and local businesses. Most of the pollution in the rivers comes from stormwater that flows off our property, gets heated up on the street, curbed, and piped to local creeks whose banks fail during big rains and flood our rivers with silt, bacteria, chemicals, and nutrients. The bill IS trying to tax the polluters. The bay may have shrinking dead zones, but the rivers do not and likely will not until we change the way we handle stormwater. CBF funding is no match for funding of those that are in the business of creating impervious surfaces and trying to reduce the power of the EPA/other regulators. We need to support Ladd/Trumbauer in spreading understanding the need and shaping the bill to something we can all live with and feel responsibility and ownership of. (disease on elbow sounds like bacteria (septics, dogs) vs chemicals and heavy metals).
John Thomas January 07, 2012 at 06:02 PM
So you are saying that the local engineers still have not been able to figure out how to control the stormwater even after 20 years ? Thats sad. Sounds like its time to throw in the towel then.
Tom H January 07, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Good to hear that John. I brushed up against a piling, got a small scrath from a barnacle, and weeks later needed surgery. I agree.. "tax the polluters" and in this case, $35/year might have covered my family's share.
Tom H January 07, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Although I read Stormwater Magazine occasionally, I'm no expert. http://www.stormh2o.com/SW/SWhome.aspx Twenty years ago, stormwater wasn't the biggest issue and it still isn't. Engineers have solutions, but it takes...... money to implement. I'm sorry, I'm willing to take my family out to lunch one less time per year if it means I'm being responsible for my own mess and not kicking the can down the road so my kids and their kids can pay for it. With Freedom comes Responsibility!
John Thomas January 07, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I never create a mess because I don't throw motor oil down the drain or sewer and I take all hazardous liquid chemicals to the local landfill station. I also never plan on eating fish from the Bay.
Erik Michelsen January 08, 2012 at 12:10 AM
The bay's problems aren't from motor oil, though it's good you don't pour it down the drain. They're from excess levels of nutrients and sediment from wastewater, Stormwater, and agricultural runoff.
Erik Michelsen January 08, 2012 at 12:19 AM
"Average citizens" contribute pollution to our rivers and the bay. A small annual fee is a way to begin to capture that fact and begin to reverse the damage.
Erik Michelsen January 08, 2012 at 12:24 AM
That's a pretty silly statement. Volumes of research shows the current health of the bay an ask anyone 50 or older who's lived in the area and they can tell you how much the bay has declined since their childhood.
John Thomas January 08, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Erik: First you said : "Average citizens" contribute pollution to our rivers and the bay. Then you say the bay's problems are from excess levels of nutrients and sediment from wastewater, Stormwater, and agricultural runoff. How are average citizens responsible for nutrients and agricultural runoff ?
John Thomas January 08, 2012 at 05:51 AM
Erik: How do private citizens contribute to the pollution in the bay ? Show me the percentage that private citizens contribute to the pollution in the bay.
Erik Michelsen January 08, 2012 at 03:48 PM
John, Do you have a septic system or use the county sewer? Do you fertilize your lawn? Does rain run off your roof and driveway down into the storm drains and eventually into creeks feeding the rivers and bay?
Amy Leahy January 08, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Erik, I'm intrigued by the citizen's contribution to the pollution. How much do the chemicals we use within our homes contribute to the wastewater pollution? How much of a difference would it make if we were to use toxic-free products in our homes to clean it and ourselves? I remember that corporations like Proctor & Gamble were given directives to eliminate the phosphates in their products by the state of Maryland and a couple of years ago (I heard) P&G asked for an extension to that deadline. I look at websites where you can get information on the chemicals added routinely to our personal care products that get washed down the drain and ultimately into the watershed. How much of a contributing factor is that?
Erik Michelsen January 08, 2012 at 06:49 PM
By the way, you're not a "bad person" or unique for doing any of those things. They're the impacts we have just from living here. A fee like this one just allows us to keep taking more steps to improve water quality despite the fact so many of us live here.
CM January 08, 2012 at 08:32 PM
My home drains to a modern stormwater management system before it drains to the bay. Haven't I paid my fair share? My guess is that the AACo drainage area is less than 1% of the Chesapeake Bay drainage area and any new fee will go for demonstration projects and pet projects without significant impact. The County's expensive coastal plain outfall project built at the new Utility building on East West Blvd was completely destroyed by the September storms. Employees had not even occupied the new building and their stormwater system was demolished. A true testament to what the Dept of Public Works can do with our money.
Erik Michelsen January 08, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Amy, Good questions. Yes, using toxic-free cleaners and substances will definitely help considerably with some aspects of pollution. You may have heard, for instance, about the discovery of intersex fish on the Potomac (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/11/AR2009111118805.html) which appears to be in part, attributable to the toxic brew that makes its way into the river. Wastewater treatment plants, as a rule aren't necessarily designed to treat the effects household cleaners, birth control pills, and other chemical inputs. The phosphate ban that you mention was a big victory in terms of reducing phosphorus to our rivers and the Bay. Unfortunately, that's not the only source of phosphorus polluting our waterways. It's also bound to sediments that wash into rivers from farm fields or eroding stream banks. There are many facets to the water quality issues facing the Bay and you have raised a couple. The areas where toxics are the worst are generally areas where heavy industry is or has been present for some time, such as the Anacostia River, Baltimore Harbor, and the Elizabeth River in VA.
Erik Michelsen January 08, 2012 at 11:12 PM
The University of Maryland has been studying a number of the county's innovative stormwater projects as has found that they are significantly reducing the amounts of nutrients and sediment making their way to tidewater. In terms of Anne Arundel County's impacts, everyone is being asked to step up and pay their fair share. The Bay clean-up imperatives from EPA are not Anne Arundel County specific.
John Thomas January 09, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Maybe the new toll hikes on Maryland tunnels and bridges can pay for the Bay clean up.
PD March 06, 2012 at 03:00 PM
For every nickel add dime fee jacked on taxpayers, where is the money going? Who has accountabiity to show results? How many "Save the Bay" funds are taxpayers already paying into? How effective has the money been spent and what results show for it? Most of the money from these feel-good "fees" seems to go to fund "education" Which means these lobbyists and professional special interest groups keep renting elected reps to milk "fees" from taxpayers to pay themselves to educate us. STOP ALREADY. Show us what everyone is already spending (Federal local and state) and results before we show you anymore money Now, to save the Bay I am going to go flush my toilet 3 times to get my money's worth from the jacked up flush tax we're paying.

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