Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman this spring vetoed an important water pollution control fee meant to reduce urban runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. Her veto was later wisely overridden by the county council, which recognized how important the Bay’s health is to a county whose geography, culture, and history are defined by the Chesapeake.
Now, the county executive is holding a series of public meetings -- the next, on September 26 -- about the runoff pollution control fees, which the Maryland General Assembly in 2012 required of the state’s 10 largest jurisdictions. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is urging its members and friends who live in the county to attend one of the meetings.
At the meetings, you can learn about how the fees are being used to reduce pollution running off streets, parking lots, and other paved surfaces that cannot absorb rainwater. Please speak up and let Executive Neuman know you support public investments in runoff pollution control systems, not only for the good of fish, crabs, and oysters, but also future generations of people who cherish the Bay.
Of all the water pollution problems we face, polluted runoff is the source least understood. It also happens to be the only major source on the rise.
The Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works, for example, found in 2010 that 37 percent of the nitrogen pollution in the Magothy River comes from urban runoff, not to mention 94 percent of the phosphorus pollution, and virtually all bacteria and sediment pollution.
This pollution clearly needs to be controlled, and projects like building roadside gardens that absorb and filter runoff not only clean up the Bay, but also create jobs for local construction workers and engineers.
The next Anne Arundel County public meetings on the runoff fees will be held:
1) From 6 p.m.to 8 p.m., September 26 at Heritage Office Complex, First Floor Training Room, 2660 Riva Road, Annapolis.
2) From 6 p.m.to 7 p.m., October 2 at Ft. Meade High School's Auditorium, 1100 Clark Road, in Ft. Meade.
By Tom Pelton
Chesapeake Bay Foundation