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In support of Harford storm water fee [Letter]

The following is the Friends of Harford testimony before the Harford County Council in support of Bill 13-12. levying a storm water remediation fee. A copy was provided for publication.

Friends of Harford supports the purpose and philosophy behind Bill 13-12 "Storm water Remediation Fee" because past storm water management practices have proven inadequate to protect our properties, our streams, the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. Just as these past inadequacies accumulated over time, so too will correcting them take time -- and money. We need to begin.

Harford's population has continued to grow ever since the first limits on storm water runoff were established. Population growth brought with it an even greater growth in impervious surface -- in the form of homes, businesses, roads, parking lots, and public buildings such as schools. As impervious surfaces increased so did storm water runoff.

Even storm water runoff during construction of these impervious surfaces carried sediment into local waterways.

As our population has increased, so too has our understanding of the need for more effective storm water management.

This realization brought with it an understanding of the need to not only prevent future problems but also to correct current deficiencies. What was "good enough" in the past, when there was much less impervious surface, is inadequate to protect our watersheds today. New storm water facilities may be required. Current storm water facilities which have been poorly designed or poorly maintained need to be repaired. Damaged waterways need to be restored. All of this work offers job opportunities for local residents.

Paying for these "get well" improvements is the purpose of this Bill. [Friends of Harford] won't comment on the specifics of the bill since we don't have the tools to determine what needs to be done or what it will ultimately cost.

Except for cases of financial hardship, we believe costs should be shared by everyone with few if any exemptions allowed. Most of us use the impervious surfaces responsible for the problem -- houses, roads, schools, shops, parking lots, etc. All of us will benefit from the repairs.

[Friends of Harford] believes strict accounting and public reporting is essential. We think annual reviews are needed to update the costs, priorities and necessity of planned work, with the goal of ending the program when needed work has been completed.

Friends of Harford believes that we are all in this together, that we all have a stake in protecting our lands and waterways. We urge this Council to pass Bill 13-12 with any necessary amendments so work can begin. We also ask you to oversee this process as it proceeds.

Morita Bruce

President of Friends of Harford

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