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Stormwater Fee Bill Withdrawn, May Return Later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.

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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