Prince George's County, Maryland

Prince George's County Expands Innovative Clean Water Program

For Immediate Release: 10/9/2013 5:00 PM

Contact: Linda Lowe, Public Information Specialist / 301-883-5952

New program offers options to reduce stormwater fees for churches and nonprofits
LARGO, MD – On Friday, the Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources (DER) announced the expansion of its Clean Water Program with a new element that will offer stormwater fee reduction credits and grants to qualified religious entities and 501 (c) nonprofits. The Alternative Compliance Program (ACP) establishes a reasonable and equitable fee alternative for these groups to comply with Federal and State regulations issued under the Watershed Protection and Restoration Program to help slow and cleanse stormwater runoff pollution. 
ACP is part of the County’s Clean Water Program and has received national attention and strong support from area religious leaders, builders and the environmental community for its innovative approach to financing water infrastructure projects.  The program’s overall goal includes the creation of 5,000 new green jobs, public-private partnerships (P3), local business development, grants and rebates, and the collection of modest property fees.
“We are thrilled to have this partnership with our churches and nonprofits to meet our Federal mandates while acknowledging the special status of these institutions,” said DER Director Adam Ortiz.  “We are glad to be able to come together to clean up our County, rather than be in conflict.”
 “By collaborating with the County on this important effort, we will be able to build awareness on the importance of environmental stewardship within our communities and congregations,” said Reverend Nathaniel Thomas, of Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church, Moderator Elect of the Prince George’s County Baptist Association.
.  “This program will encourage groups and organizations to develop strategies that will promote engagement and environmental public education.”
Three key program options of the ACP include: 
·         A 50 percent reduction in the impervious area fee if a property owner provides a temporary right-of-entry easement for the County to install stormwater best management practices (BMPs) on property owned by the organization.  The property owner is responsible for maintaining the BMPs and is subject to tri-annual inspections by DER to continue receiving the credit.
·         A 25 percent reduction in the impervious area fee if the property owners agree to take part in the County’s outreach and education campaign to encourage, track and report on congregation property owners’ participation in the County’s Rain Check Rebate Program for restoration.  Groups can also receive a reduction if they develop an environmental green team or ministry to perform and implement green programs such as planting rain gardens, adding rain barrels or tree planting. 
·         A 25 percent reduction in the impervious area fee if a property owner agrees to use lawn management companies certified in the proper use and application of fertilizers to maintain their green areas and lawns.  The property owner must also agree to good housekeeping practices to ensure clean lots.
Nonprofit groups may also apply to DER for a grant to offset up to 100 percent of a project’s cost for watershed restoration and rehabilitation projects relating to the planning, design and construction of BMPs, stream and wetland restoration, and public education and outreach.  Organizations receiving grants are strongly encouraged to utilize County-based businesses for projects, except where the County’s Office of Central Services finds insufficient local business capacity for a particular good or service.
To apply, groups can fill out the County’s ACP application form online and submit through the CountyClick 311 Web site or mail an application to DER’s Stormwater Management Division.  Organizations will be contacted by an agent who will assist in developing the alternative compliance plan elements, determine which option(s) are feasible to implement and submit the plan in writing to DER. Once received, DER will make the final determination of the fee reduction credit awarded.  All options are subject to County approval and inspection in order to continue the credits.
For more information on the ACP, the Rain Check Rebate Program and the Clean Water Program, visit http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/sites/StormwaterManagement/ or call CountyClick at 311.
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