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Environmentalist Ready to Lead County's Stormwater Control Efforts

Stormwater runoff that picks up debris, fertilizer and other pollutants is a major source of pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. Anne Arundel County will have more projects this year to tackle the problem.

An algae bloom in Chesapeake Bay. File|Patch
An algae bloom in Chesapeake Bay. File|Patch

While the state-mandated stormwater fees continue to generate fierce debate across Maryland, Anne Arundel County leaders have hired Erik Michelsen to use the money to reduce pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay.

Michelsen, a local environmentalist, will run the county's stormwater management program, which is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars annually, reports The Baltimore Sun. Previously, the environmentalist led the nonprofit South River Federation in Edgewater.

Stormwater runoff – rainwater that is not absorbed into the ground, but rolls along impervious surfaces, picking up debris, fertilizer and other pollutants – is a major source of pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. 

"You're really talking about a game-changer in terms of implementation," Michelsen told the newspaper of the ability to use the increased funds to divert more water from the Bay.

The 10 counties affected by the “rain tax” include Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford, Charles, Frederick, Baltimore, and Baltimore city.

Anne Arundel County began collecting stormwater fees from all property owners last year. A residential fee is being phased in that amounts to $34, $85 or $170 per year, depending on the type of property, the Sun says.

“The rain tax has outraged Marylanders across the state, and leaders smart enough to realize the unpopularity of this tax have found alternative ways to fund their priority projects,” according to Larry Hogan, founder and chairman of Change Maryland in a recent blog. “For the state to force these jurisdictions to implement a rain tax just proves this is another money grab by the O’Malley-Brown Administration.”

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