Storm Water Compliance to Cost St. Mary's Co. Millions

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (October 25, 2018)—The Maryland Department of the Environment is set to enforce strict storm water management rules on the county through the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit; the county estimates the improvements to storm water collection facilities required to fulfill the expectations of the permit could cost about $12 million.

The state designated the county as an MS4 permit area in 2016, the result of its growth in both population and development; the MS4 permit is a piece of the effort to reduce the overall daily input of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

"This is what happens when the State of Maryland comes down and helps you to live your lives," said Commissioner Todd Morgan after receiving a briefing on the MS4 permit from public works chief John Deatrick. "This is part of the unintended consequences of growth."

The permit requires the county to educate the public about its impacts as well as solicit their participation in eliminating storm water pollution.

Mike Canova, public works engineer who is managing the permit, said this means individual home owners and home owners associations (HOA)with storm water management ponds on their properties can now be held responsible for the pollutants they discharge into the watershed.

Canova told The County Times the county had held off on enforcing the permit but now that was set to change; he said the county might have to step in to take over stormwater management facilities of HOAs that are now defunct.

The state rules also require the county to detect any illicit pollution discharges and eliminate them as well as monitor construction sites for contaminated storm water runoff.

The county must also restore 20 percent of the impervious surfaces—such as roads and sidewalks—in the urbanized area designated by the permit.

This includes much of the Lexington Park Development District.

Canova said the county has been able to negotiate with the state in the past two years to reduce the county's level of responsibility for cutting pollutants from runoff and thereby the costs.

"At first our estimates were about $70 million in costs," Canova said.

The MS4 permit has the goal of reducing the pollution levels going into the watershed to acceptable levels by 2025.

Commissioner Mike Hewitt, who represents the county at the state's Critical Area Commission, said larger counties with greater levels of impervious surfaces suffered costs in the hundreds of millions due to the MS4 permit.

"I've seen counties decimated by this MS4 permit," Hewitt said.

For more local stories from the County Times newspapers, visit or find a copy on local news stands.

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