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On Sunday, May 27, thunderstorms pounded the Baltimore region for hours. The storm morphed Old Ellicott City into a deadly flood zone. Here’s how it happened. (Baltimore Sun video)

In the aftermath of the May 27 Ellicott City flood, I have heard talk about tapping Howard County’s Watershed and Protection Fee to help mitigate the flooding potential. As the author of the legislation that created this fee, I want to provide some insight into the limitations of its use (“Howard County Council debates details of stormwater fee,” March 19, 2013).

The Watershed and Protection Fee was established to fund water quality projects mandated as part of our Municipal Stormwater Permit issued by the state of Maryland. By law, the fee must be used to fund water quality projects, not flood mitigation projects. Therefore, the fee cannot be used to fund the large flood mitigation projects Ellicott City needs.

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Your editorial (“Should we rebuild?” May 30) made good points about the challenges that we, in Howard County, have in determining the future of Main Street in Ellicott City. We understand that changing weather patterns may influence the frequency of major storms we have recently experienced.

Ellicott City is now at a crossroads in how it should adapt to a new future. We will continue to work with residents, building owners and business owners to find the best solutions to ensure a sustainable future for this historic town. But we won’t be able to count on the county’s Watershed and Protection Fee to aid in the financial support.

Jim Caldwell, Ellicott City

The writer is director of the Howard County Office of Community Sustainability.

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