County gets per­mit to im­prove stormwa­ter man­age­ment

First es­ti­mated to cost $74 mil­lion; im­prove­ments now check in at $13 mil­lion to com­ply with state man­date

The Enterprise - - News - By TAY­LOR DEVILLE tdev­ille@somd­ Twit­ter: @Tay­lorEn­tNews

State-man­dated stormwa­ter man­age­ment reg­u­la­tions that were ini­tially ex­pected to cost up to $74 mil­lion by 2025 are still set to be im­ple­mented, but with a much lower price tag.

Dur­ing a meet­ing with the St. Mary’s County com­mis­sion­ers Tues­day, John Deatrick, direc­tor of St. Mary’s County Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and Trans­porta­tion, was autho­rized to sub­mit a no­tice of in­tent to the Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment, sig­nal­ing the county’s in­tent to com­ply with the mu­nic­i­pal sep­a­rate storm sewer sys­tem per­mit, known as MS4, from MDE.

Since part of the county is in­cluded in a fed­eral ur­ban area, the county is re­quired to ad­here to storm wa­ter reg­u­la­tions as re­quired un­der the fed­eral Clean Wa­ter Act. The county has worked for sev­eral years to ap­ply for the per­mit, which will im­prove wa­ter qual­ity by re­duc­ing pol­lu­tants in stormwa­ter dis­charge.

“This is one of the joys of growth in the county,” Com­mis­sioner Todd Mor­gan (R) said dur­ing the meet­ing. “Once you get to a cer­tain pop­u­la­tion level, the Mary­land bu­reau­cracy de­cides to come down and help you run your lives.”

Be­fore the per­mit was is­sued in April, county of­fi­cials sub­mit­ted their con­cerns over the scope of work re­quired by the per­mit and the es­ti­mated $74 mil­lion cost as­so­ci­ated with it.

In Jan­uary, MDE staff no­ti­fied county of­fi­cials of a change in per­mit con­di­tions to ad­dress some of the com­mis­sion­ers’ con­cerns, ef­fec­tively re­duc­ing the reg­u­lated im­per­vi­ous area and al­low­ing the county to credit restora­tion projects out­side of the ur­ban­ized area, which mostly en­com­passes Lex­ing­ton Park.

Re­duc­ing the num­ber of acres of im­per­vi­ous sur­face brings the es­ti­mated price down to a pre­lim­i­nary cost of $13 mil­lion.

Ini­tially, the county would have been re­quired to re­store im­per­vi­ous sur­faces to al­low for in­fil­tra­tion across the county over 11,000 acres. That has now been re­duced to just 2,400 acres of land within the ur­ban­ized area.

Pub­lic works will also have to retro­fit stormwa­ter man­age­ment fa­cil­i­ties to bring them up to 2001 stan­dards to mit­i­gate pol­lu­tants in the dis­charge.

The county is re­quired to re­store 20 per­cent of the 2,400 acres of im­per­vi­ous sur­face in Lex­ing­ton Park by 2025, and to re­store ar­eas of pri­vate de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing stormwa­ter re­ten­tion ponds op­er­ated by home­own­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions.

Mor­gan said “nu­mer­ous HOAs” have told him they can’t af­ford to up­grade their stormwa­ter man­age­ment sys­tems, he said, but added that the county will work to help them with the “prob­lems that are be­ing passed down by the state.”

Pub­lic works will go af­ter “ev­ery grant we can” to cover the costs, Deatrick said.

“I’ve seen some coun­ties dec­i­mated by this MS4 per­mit,” Com­mis­sioner Pres­i­dent Randy Guy (R) said. The es­ti­mated $13 mil­lion “is a lot of money, but it’s a deal,” he added.

Pub­lic works now has one year to draft a restora­tion plan, and has un­til 2025 to in­stall the im­prove­ments.


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