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Will Harford County keep the Chesapeake Bay clean?

14 June 2016

We all live downstream – and it seems water issues are everywhere. Catch water where it falls is not a motto for the drought affected alone. Here in Harford County we are facing problem of managing stormwater runoff entering the Chesapeake Bay. Only recently have I come to understand why this is such a problem that the Environmental Protection Agency has called upon every state and county to come up with a plan to reduce stormwater runoff.

Hartford County Of course it is much harder for a city like Baltimore, which is 50% paved and will have to remove pavement to reduce the runoff. In Harford County the projects are things like reforestation and stream restoration. But when I asked County Council Member Richard Slutsky about this, he was noncommittal to say the least. He said that the courts would likely be involved. Does he mean that the EPA will have to sue the county? I hope not!

We all want to live in a beautiful neighborhood and in a community that has clean water in our streams and out of our faucets. We want our counties to be places with opportunities for all and clean local rivers and streams.

Thanks to the Maryland state stormwater law, each county has until July 1st to figure out a plan for how they will finance and build a system to save local streams, clean the Chesapeake Bay, all while beautifying communities. It is up to us to make sure our counties have a good Financial Assurance Plan that will put the great pollution reduction projects our counties need into the ground. Projects like reforestation, stream restoration, and rain gardens will support local businesses and bring jobs to the community while conserving our local natural treasures.

Environmental laws only work if they are enforced. In the case of these Financial Assurance Plans, it’s essential for citizens, like us, to weigh in so that our local governments know that cleaning up polluted runoff is important and worth investing in. These plans should be detailed, explicit, and demonstrate a commitment to funding the full cost of the required pollution cleanup using funding sources that are reliable, reasonable, adequate, and feasible.

Join us at the Harford County hearing tomorrow!

June 14, 2016 at 6pm at the County Council Chambers, 212 S. Bond Street, Bel Air, MD 21014

Click here to tell the county council they need to fix some major problems with their Financial Assurance Plan.

  • The law requires Harford County to restore 1883 acres in the county in order to address polluted runoff. The plan is only addressing 50% of the federally mandated stormwater solutions that need to take place. The County needs to commit to build more projects that protect local streams and beautify communities.
  • The county should not try to ‘trade credits’ or use other accounting tricks just to avoid putting projects on the ground.
  • Harford should use this plan as an opportunity to create cost-effective projects that improve the community while creating green jobs.

Yours for clean water,

Ben Alexandro
Water Policy Advocate
Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Ben Alexandro addresses the Harford County Council

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