As debate over taxing residential and business property to better control stormwater from running off into local streams rages on in Harford County, the county government recently found the storm ponds at the county's newest school do not comply with county regulations.
As a result, the Harford County Board of Education recently approved a $120,000 contract to repair the stormwater management system at Red Pump Elementary School near Bel Air, which was constructed less than four years ago.
The board awarded the $120,697.14 contract to Angler Environmental in Odenton on April 14.
According to a report from the school system, the existing stormwater management system violates Harford County regulations.
Red Pump Elementary has three stormwater management facilities – two ponds and a bio-retention facility, Sherrie Johnson, spokesperson for Harford County government, said.
Following an inspection by the Department of Public Works, several issues were noted, Johnson said.
"[One] pond has experienced extensive erosion on the embankment and interior slopes," Johnson wrote in an email. "The slopes will be regraded and will be landscaped to prevent future erosion and maintenance requirements."
Johnson said the bio-retention facility experienced erosion gullies on the slope leading to the facility and is being regraded and armored with stone to eliminate future problems.
Repairs will include fixing the infiltration basin, gabion channel, riser/low flow pipe, spillway outfall, creating mulch beds, seeding and stabilization.
The project is being funded from the school system's capital projects account. The school system is piggybacking on a Baltimore County government contract, according to bid documents submitted to the school board.
The Red Pump system eventually discharges into tributaries of Winters Run, the main drinking water source for the town of Bel Air. There has been considerable development along both shores of the stream.
Red Pump Elementary opened in August 2011 and is Harford's newest public school building.
During the school system's budget review before members of the Harford County Council Thursday, the school system's Chief of Administration Joe Licata noted that the school system must comply with state and federal mandates for its facilities, such as making improvements to all stormwater management ponds.
He said the school system could be found to be out of compliance with those mandates, even though the funds are not there to make the fixes.
Harford County government began collecting a stormwater management fee from property owners last summer, more widely known in Maryland as a "rain tax."
The state-mandated tax is supposed to be used to mitigate pollution from sediment and foreign matter being discharged into tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, much of it carried in stormwater runoff.
In the proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year, the county expects to spend $1.3 million on stormwater management operations, $1.2 million on personnel costs.
The county stormwater management agency has 10 full-time employees, according to budget documents, including a chief construction inspector, two inspectors, three civil engineers and three engineering associates.