Churches Save on Stormwater Fees and Support Chesapeake Bay

by Mike Smith. 0 Comments

The Maryland General Assembly this week decided to table a proposal to repeal or withdraw (or delay) stormwater fees paid by municipalities, including Frederick, to keep dirty water out of the Chesapeake Bay.

Funding stormwater remediation from property taxes just doesn’t work because churches and non-profits with buildings and parking lots would be exempt from supporting pollution controls. Thus, other property owners would pay a disproportionate share to handle this runoff.

How stormwater runoff from residential and community properties ultimately pollutes our local waterways.  Stormwater fees have been implemented in Maryland with the hopes of reducing stormwater runoff and improving the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay.

How stormwater runoff from residential and community properties ultimately pollutes our local waterways. Stormwater fees have been implemented in Maryland with the hopes of reducing stormwater runoff and improving the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Under a 2012 law, Maryland’s nine largest counties — including Frederick — are required to impose such fees to raise the money needed to control polluted runoff from streets, parking lots and rooftops. The measure was backed by environmental groups and the O’Malley administration to help finance clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay.

Frederick County thumbed its collective nose at State Legislators calling for a stormwater fee by passing a .01 cent per year “rain tax” and generating $485 bucks to help with Bay Restoration. 

Carroll County refused to pay the municipal levy altogether.

“We need to change the terms of this discussion from what we ‘can’t do’ to what we can do,” says Jeff Corbin, special assistant to the EPA Administrator for the Chesapeake Bay. “What local governments, churches, citizens and grassroots groups are doing is extremely meaningful and important to protect the restoration work we’ve already done in the Bay Watershed.”

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided funding of $650,000 for Blue Water Baltimore to implement a new Interfaith program for churches to reduce their own stormwater runoff.* Part of the effort is to educate the people or congregations who are qualified for reduced fees and provide them with more innovative solutions to further reduce those fees.

Rain barrels installed at St. Matthew's Church are an innovative approach to managing stormwater runoff.

Rain barrels installed at St. Matthew’s Church are an innovative approach to managing stormwater runoff.

Blue Water Baltimore created an event for churches including the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake last weekend hosted by St. Matt’s Catholic Church in Baltimore. Over 40 people from various parishes, synagogues and congregations turned-out.

Blue Water Baltimore created an event for churches including the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake last weekend hosted by St. Matt’s Catholic Church in Baltimore. Over 40 people from various parishes, synagogues and congregations turned-out.

Blue Water Baltimore created an event for churches including the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake last weekend hosted by St. Matt’s Catholic Church in Baltimore. Over 40 people from various parishes, synagogues and congregations turned-out.

“Blue Water Congregations” will offer steps and “how to’s” on creating rain gardens, using rain barrels –projects on their grounds to control ground pollution run-off.

Bluewater Congregations helped St. Matthew's Church install a rain garden to combat stormwater runoff pollution.

Bluewater Congregations helped St. Matthew’s Church install a rain garden to combat stormwater runoff pollution.

You can access this information on Stormwater Management via www.cleanwaterbaltimore.org or by calling 410-396-5398.

Speakers included Ashley Traut, senior manager for stormwater and community outreach for Blue Water Baltimore, Jodi Rose of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and Jake Reilly, Director of Chesapeake Bay Programs for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. www.nfwf.org/chesapeake

This is the first time these fees are going to remediate 100-year old infrastructure –in our storm sewer systems –and the money is actually set-aside for storm projects. This so-called rain tax is mandated to go to the originally intended purpose.

Jake Reilly said: “There are resources out here to better control stormwater and our NFWF grantees are proving you can make it happen within your own faith community or neighborhood. We appreciate the work of Blue Water Baltimore and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake to help provide churches and non-profits ways to reduce their portion of local fees.”

Jake Reilly, NFWF's Director of Chesapeake Programs, shows a rain garden as an  example of how churches and community organizations can install best management practices on their property to control stormwater runoff.

Jake Reilly, NFWF’s Director of Chesapeake Programs, displays and discusses how churches and community organizations can install best management practices on their property to control stormwater runoff.

The $650,000 NFWF grant went to Blue Water Baltimore, in partnership with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, for outreach work in Baltimore congregations, backed-up by additional technical and financial assistance for stormwater BMP implementation and fee reduction strategies, according to NFWF. 

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