(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Clean Water, Healthy Families coalition [including Chesapeake Bay Foundation] today applauded the work done by the House of Delegates' Environment and Transportation Committee on SB863, which revises Maryland's stormwater legislation. The bill—sponsored by Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller—has undergone dramatic changes since its introduction in February. The coalition believes this legislation will help Maryland's ten largest jurisdictions fund pollution-reducing projects to meet federal Clean Water Act requirements.
The amended legislation is expected to receive a final floor vote on the House floor today, the final day of the General Assembly session, and then head to the Senate. Clean Water, Healthy Families released the following statement:
"Polluted runoff makes our waterways unsafe for swimming, threatens Maryland seafood and causes localized flooding and property damage. Fortunately, Maryland continues to take steps to address this threat. The current language of SB863 significantly improves the implementation of Maryland's landmark 2012 stormwater legislation. With the passage of this legislation, we believe counties will be on track to meet their polluted runoff reduction goals and the new reporting requirements will allow us to hold counties accountable. The result will be less pollution reaching local waters and the Chesapeake Bay.
We are grateful for the leadership of House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, and we especially appreciate the actions of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, which built on the work done by the Senate. We urge passage of this important legislation."
The improvements in SB863 include:
- Strict accountability through annual reporting. Local jurisdictions with federal stormwater permits must submit annual reports and biannual Financial Assurance Plans to demonstrate they have 75% of the necessary annual funding in place by 2016, and 100% by 2018.
- Financial penalties. Specific penalties of up to $10,000 per day are imposed if a jurisdiction under the mandate fails to meet its stormwater funding requirements.
- State and federal properties now included. Language in the bill will allow local governments with a stormwater fee to apply that fee to state and federal properties.
- Certain state funding used as match. The Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund can now be used as a local match to those jurisdictions with stormwater fees.
The Clean Water, Healthy Families coalition seeks fishable and swimmable waters in our local rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.
Members of the Clean Water, Healthy Families Coalition include: 1000 Friends of Maryland, Anacostia Watershed Society, Blue Water Baltimore, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chester River Association, Clean Water Action, Environment Maryland, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, Maryland Conservation Council, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Mid-shore Riverkeeper Conservancy, National Aquarium in Baltimore, Potomac Conservancy, Sierra Club - Maryland Chapter, South River Federation and West/Rhode Riverkeeper. More information is available at www.cleanwaterhealthyfamilies.org.