(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld state-mandated pollution reduction requirements for Frederick and Carroll counties in an Aug. 6 decision.
The court ruled Maryland's Department of the Environment has the authority to compel the counties to treat stormwater runoff from a certain percentage of the counties' impervious surface using Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System discharge permits, known as MS4 permits.
The permits serve an important role in the state's Clean Water Blueprint, or watershed implementation plan. By treating stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces such as driveways, roads, and buildings, jurisdictions reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution that rain washes into the Chesapeake Bay. County and local governments throughout the state have been installing practices such as green infrastructure, streamside forest buffers, and infiltration ponds to reduce stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces.
Continuing that work is essential to meeting the pollution reduction goals of the overall Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint by 2025, as required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. MS4 permits provide a backstop to ensure that local jurisdictions in Maryland are doing their part to reduce impervious surface-related pollution within their borders.
In response to the court's decision, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Maryland Assistant Director Erik Fisher issued the following statement:
"Restoring the Chesapeake Bay is a cooperative effort and local governments are key partners. This court decision will help ensure that counties and cities in Maryland continue to reduce stormwater runoff that harms local waterways and ultimately pollutes the Bay.
"Reducing polluted runoff from urban and suburban areas continues to be among the most difficult challenges to meeting Bay cleanup goals. These permits provide baseline requirements for local jurisdictions to deal with this issue and we appreciate the court's action upholding the state's authority to issue them."