What is the Stormwater Remediation Fee (HB987)?
The Watershed Protection and Restoration Program (HB987) was signed into State law in April 2012. The program establishes a system of Stormwater Remediation Fees and a local watershed protection and restoration fund (WPRF) that must be implemented by counties and municipalities that are subject to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase I Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit in Maryland.
Maryland’s efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay through restricting the amount of nutrients, phosphorous and sediment in the Chesapeake's feeder waters whimsically known as the “pollution diet” requires us to reduce stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff remains a primary source of pollution in many Maryland counties, for which we have no dedicated revenue source. This legislation requires local jurisdictions to create dedicated stormwater utility fee to raise the necessary funds to meet local water quality need. A water quality fee for residential and non-residential properties would be based on impervious surface coverage, or a similar mechanism.
What are the regulatory mandates?
Prince George’s County is committed to improving and enhancing water quality throughout the County, the region, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. This commitment is expressed in the County’s participation in the fourth generation National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Discharge Permit as well as the latest Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP II). The County administers and coordinates various programs designed to address water quality that include: construction of capital improvement projects, community outreach and participation, inspection and enforcement, pollution prevention, in-stream water quality monitoring, watershed studies, and trash and litter pick up.
Watershed Implementation Plan Phase II — The County is committed to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by reducing total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), and total suspended solids (TSS) loads entering local waterways and ultimately the Bay. The pollutant reduction goals were established by the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and the strategy for meeting these reductions can be found in the Prince George’s County, Maryland – Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan II.
NPDES MS4 Discharge Permit —The Prince George’s County, Department of Environmental Resources, administers the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Phase I Discharge Permit for the County. EPA and the State of Maryland (State) enforces the County’s NPDES MS4 Phase I Permit. House Bill 987 applies to a County or municipality that is subject to a NPDES MS4 Phase I Discharge Permit.
Of the 27 municipalities in Prince George’s County, 23 hold a NPDES MS4 Phase II Discharge Permit based on having a population greater than 1,000 but less than 100,000. The remaining four municipalities have a population under 1,000 and are not required by the State to implement a NPDES MS4 Phase II Discharge Permit.
Municipalities subject to a NPDES MS4 Phase II Discharge Permit:
- Berwyn Heights
- Capitol Heights
- Colmar Manor
- College Park
- Cottage City
- Fairmont Heights
- Forest Heights
- Landover Hills
- Mount Rainier
- New Carrollton
- District Heights
- Riverdale Park
- Seat Pleasant
Municipalities not subject to a NPDES MS4 Phase II Discharge Permit:
- Upper Marlboro
- Eagle Harbor
- North Brentwood
Does House Bill 987 apply to the municipalities?
House Bill 987 applies to a county or municipality that is subject to a NPDES MS4 Phase I Discharge Permit. Thus, HB987 does not apply to the 27 municipalities in the County. In anticipation of the New NPDES Phase II Permit to be issued to municipalities, the County has contacted them (the municipalities) to participate in the County’s Watershed Protection and Restoration Program. Under the new NPDES Phase II Permit, municipalities will be required to restore 20% of their untreated impervious area. The City of Bowie is not included because they are already implementing a stormwater program.
Are any properties excluded from the Stormwater Remediation Fee?
- Federal Lands
- State Lands
- Agricultural lands (farm portion)
- City of Bowie
- County-owned properties
How does this relate to the County Stormwater Management Ad Valorem Fund?
To deal with the ubiquitous impacts of stormwater runoff to which your property contributes, the County has relied on the County Stormwater Management Ad Valorem Fund which is governed by Section 10264 of the County Code. The Stormwater Management Ad Valorem Fund is used not only for planning, constructing, operating, and maintaining the County’s storm drain system, but also used to maintain the County’s flood control facilities and levies system. Thus, the fund is not a dedicated stormwater funding source to address water quality mandates.
The Stormwater Remediation Fee will provide a dedicated revenue source for addressing stormwater runoff and improving water quality. The charge is based on a property’s assessed impervious surface coverage providing a mechanism to equitably allocate the fee based on the stormwater contribution. Thus, each property contributes a fair and equitable share toward the overall cost of improving water quality and mitigating the impact of impervious cover. It will provide a stable and adequate level of funding for regulatory mandates such as the Watershed Implementation Plan and the NPDES MS4 Permit independent of the Ad Valorem and General Fund.
I don't have any drainage or stormwater problems. Why do I pay the Fee?
Although the effects might not be directly apparent, stormwater from the impervious surfaces on your property contributes to a cumulative downstream effect that includes (1) increases in volume and (2) potential increases in pollutants. Thus, each property contributes a fair and equitable share toward the overall cost of improving water quality and mitigating the impacts of impervious cover.
Everyone benefits from the clean water in our rivers and streams that are supported by the County's stormwater control and maintenance programs. The benefits of a clean environment also translate to monetary benefits such as healthier communities, reduced water rates and reduced public monies spent on emergencies related to flooding and other damage.
Why am I being charged for storm water when I already pay for water and sewer service?
The Stormwater Remediation Fee has nothing to do with potable (drinking) water or wastewater, or whether you’re on a central water and sewer service system. The drinking water and wastewater services at your property are part of distribution and collection networks completely separate from the Watershed Protection and Restoration Program. A fee will be collected for improving water quality from untreated impervious surfaces because impervious area generates the runoff that carries pollutants and the runoff has to be managed by the County’s storm water system.
The fee is being charged for the service the County is providing in controlling, storing and/or treating the stormwater runoff. Unlike wastewater, stormwater that leaves your property and enters the storm drain system receives no treatment prior to its discharge into downstream waterways.
Do I have to pay the Stormwater Remediation Fee if I have my own well and septic system?
Yes. The Stormwater Remediation Fee relates to the stormwater drainage system, which is completely separate from the water and sanitary sewer system. The Stormwater Remediation Fee is based upon how much stormwater runoff your property can generate based on impervious cover thereby contributing to the County’s water quality problems.
What is the big deal about stormwater runoff? How harmful can rain really be?
It's not necessarily the rain itself that's harmful. It's the volume of runoff generated by development, and the waste and pollutants that rainwater collects after it hits the roofs, driveways, roads, parking lots, and other impervious areas. Even pervious areas like grass lawns or landscaped areas can contribute to the pollutants found in storm water runoff. That stormwater - and all of the pollutants it collects - eventually flows into the County's stormwater management system, which then leads to local streams and eventually to the Chesapeake Bay.
Below are some common pollutants found in stormwater runoff:
*Chemicals such as pesticdes, phosphorus, and ammonium are transported (attached to) with the sediment
Hasn’t the County always had storm drains?
The County has had storm drains for a long time. However, recent State and Federal regulations requiring reductions in pollutant loading and stormwater management necessitate that the County enhance their stormwater management program The Stormwater Remediation Fee enables the County to meet its responsibilities to reduce pollutant loads per the NPDES MS4 permit and the Watershed Implementation Plan Phase II.
Is there any way to decrease my fee?
Yes. A person may reduce their fee by implementing water quality controls that treat all or a portion of the impervious surfaces on their property.
Do tax-exempt properties have to pay?
Yes, because the Stormwater Remediation Fee is a charge, not a property tax. Property taxes are based on the assessed value of the property. The fee is paid by all residential property owners and associated nonresidential property owners that have impervious surface regardless of ownership or tax status. The fee is assessed based on the impervious cover of a property, which contributes to the amount of stormwater runoff from that the property. All impervious surfaces contribute to pollution and flooding problems and, therefore, all property owners are subject to the fee.
Isn't this essentially a State tax on rain water?
The Stormwater Remediation Fee is a user fee because it charges property owners for a service. That service is managing the stormwater runoff and associated pollutants coming from their property.
Are Senior Citizens or low income families eligible for a discount?
The County has established a financial hardship program for residential prosperity owners meet the edibility criteria. This information will be available through the County’s Office of Finance.
Is the Stormwater Remediation Fee tax deductible?
No. The Stormwater Remediation Fee may not be deducted from federal or state income taxes.The Internal Revenue Service does not consider the Stormwater Remediation Fee to be tax deductible for homeowners but it may be deducted for other types of properties such as commercial properties and businesses.
How is my Stormwater Remediation Fee calculated?
The billing of all properties (residential or commercial) is based on impervious area. Fees are assigned to property parcels based on stormwater runoff characteristics, not property value. Because the placement of impervious cover (i.e. surfaces that tend to repel rainwater) on land, such as rooftops, driveways, walkways, and parking areas, increases both the flow rate and volume of stormwater runoff; it is the single most significant land use characteristic when determining the impact to a drainage system. Therefore, the amount of impervious cover is used to calculate stormwater remediation fees to all developed properties, both residential and commercial, within the County.
The charge is based on the average amount of square feet of roof, sidewalk, and driveway for a single-family dwelling. The average amount of impervious surface has been calculated to be 2,465 square feet, which is the Equivalent Service Unit (ESU) or the base unit for calculating the Stormwater Remediation Fee. Single-family homes are billed as one ESU.
- Townhomes are billed as one-third of an ESU.
- Condominium and apartment charges are calculated based on the amount of impervious areas and are billed as multiples of the ESU.
- Associated nonresidential structures are billed as multiples of the ESU. For example, if a restaurant has 24,650 square feet of imperviousness, the property owner is billed for 10 ESU.
- Undeveloped or exempt properties are not subject to a Storm Water Utility fee.
How will the Stormwater Remediation Fee be collected?
The Stormwater Remediation Fee will be a separate line item on your property tax.
Can I request a review or appeal the charge?
Yes. If a property owner believes that the Stormwater Remediation Fee has been assigned or calculated incorrectly, the property owner may petition the County for an adjustment by submitting a written request, using the appeal form, to the Department of Environmental Resources. The property owner must provide (1) a detailed statement of the basis for the petition and (2) documents supporting the assertion that the property should be assigned a different classification; or that the impervious area measurements used to calculate the equivalent residential units for the property are incorrect; or that the property is not subject the Stormwater Remediation Fee under the applicable law.
Within 60 days after receiving the petition, the Director will review the fee assigned to the property and make a written determination of whether the property owner's request for an adjustment of the charge should be granted or denied.
What happens if I do not pay my Stormwater Remediation Fee?
The Stormwater Remediation Fee must be paid in full at the same time as the rest of your property tax bill. If you choose not to pay, the interest on the overdue payment will accrue according to County Laws and Regulations at the same rate charged for delinquent real property taxes until the owner has remitted the outstanding payment and interest. An unpaid Stormwater Remediation Fee is subject to all penalties and remedies that apply to unpaid real property taxes. If the unpaid charge becomes a lien against the property, the lien has the same priority as a lien imposed for nonpayment of real property taxes.
Do I have to pay for any undeveloped properties that I own?
No, because no impervious area is associated with undeveloped property.
Do I have to pay for any unoccupied developed properties that I own?
Yes, because that property contains impervious area.
I own a farm. Why is my agricultural property being assessed this charge?
Farmhouses are treated as residential properties. You are being charged based on the impervious area of your farmhouse, driveway, etc., not your whole property area. Cropland and pastureland are not charged.
Can I get a Stormwater Remediation Fee credit?
The fee credit applies to properties that reduce pollutants generated from their propertie’s stormwater runoff by implementing on-site best management practices and subject to the practices passing inspection. Credits will not be applied for any properties with a delinquent Stormwater Remediation Fee. Single-family properties do not qualify for a fee credit due to the limited available land area to place qualifying stormwater control structures.
To request a Stormwater Remediation Fee credit, please complete and submit a fee reduction form.