When focusing on how to reduce and end stormwater pollution, the issue of how to pay for it arises before us. This question was answered by the Maryland General Assembly in the 2015 Legislative Session when Governor Hogan signed into law the elimination of the mandatory stormwater remediation fees assessed to businesses and residents. In place of the fees, legislation was enacted requiring larger Maryland counties to set forth how they would pay for stormwater managememt and implementation of federal stormwater permits. The required plans were called “Financial Assurance Plans” (FAP) and were to be prepared and submitted to the Maryland Department of the Environment by July 1, 2016, and every two years thereafter. These plans were to set forth whether the jurisdiction would use a fee to support stormwater pollution abatement efforts or whether it would budget specifically for it out of its general or capital funds over the course of the next five years. The legislature wanted the assurance that the actual stormwater management and restoration requirements would be met so that our waterways and Chesapeake Bay could be restored, and that counties were in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements. The law requires the Maryland Department of the Environment to:
- Post financial assurance plans on its website within 14 days of receipt;
- Provide an annual report to the Governor and the Maryland General Assembly by September 1 of every year; and
- Make a decision regarding the adequacy of these plans within 90 days of receipt.
- That every FAP be reviewed by MDE and graded on whether the fees or appropriations are adequate to accomplish the stormwater management and permit implementation tasks
- That the FAP set forth a match-up of required restoration projects and their true costs and source of funds
- That the required public hearings on the plans be held by every jurisdiction