Lets first look at what this “rain tax” really is.
The Storm water Remediation Fee (it’s proper name), was enacted to create revenue to fund upgrades to the aging and antiquated sewer systems that are found throughout the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed. This fund also pays for projects that will filter the polluted runoff that is generated by non-natural hardscapes such as roads, sidewalks and rooftops.
This bill mandates that the following jurisdictions be required to contribute to their local Watershed Protection and Restoration Funds: Baltimore City and nine counties- Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince Georges Counties.
If you own property in any of these jurisdictions you will be required to pay a fee dependent on how much land you own and how much impervious surface covers that land.
Q: So how can I reduce the fee on my property?
A: Property owners can reduce the fee that they are required to pay by reducing the amount of runoff that flows from their property. Each jurisdiction is different but listed below is an example of Anne Arundel County’s rebate and credit guidelines:
Q: How do I reduce the amount of runoff that my property generates?
A: Here are 5 ways a residential property owner can reduce storm water runoff:
1. Downspout redirection
Most downspouts are routed to send rainwater directly towards streets and storm drains. By redirecting your downspout to a garden, yard or rain barrel, it enables storm water to slowly absorb into the ground or be stored for later use rather then creating runoff.
2. Reduce impervious surfaces
The most common impervious surfaces found on residential properties are sidewalks, driveways, patios and roofs. Some solutions to these problems include: installing a green roof to absorb rainfall on rooftops; as well as using gravel or porous pavers to replace concrete or asphalt slabs.
3. Install a rain barrel or cistern
Installing rain barrels or a cistern to collect rainfall from rooftops. This collection can be stored and used to water landscape at a later date.
4. Install a rain garden
Properly installed rain gardens collect rainfall thereby reducing the amount of polluted runoff that enters our waterways, and they also help to filter the water that resupplies underground aquifers.
5. Plant trees and shrubs
Trees, shrubs and landscaping other then grass, all have deep roots that can enable the soil around it to absorb more rainfall. More plants and less grass is a great way to reduce water pollution!
Each county makes their own regulations as far as rebates and credits to property owners, they also require proof that the work was done correctly so I strongly urge you to contact your local government to inquire about their specific guidelines before starting work on your property.
Missy Lauterbach, Facilitator, Adventure Guide and Naturalist, Terrapin Adventures
To find out more information on each counties regulations you can follow this link:
Blue Water Baltimore provides a Water Audit Program that can advise and assist property owners with these projects.
*Please note that the Water Audit Program is only available to properties within the watersheds they protect.