Watershed Protection Fee

The Watershed Protection Fee aims to improve the water quality of streams in your backyard, other local waterways, and the Chesapeake Bay, by funding projects that treat Howard County stormwater runoff. All property owners are charged a fee based on the size of their property or the amount of impervious area on their property that allows untreated stormwater to run off to the nearest stream.

Why Howard County Still Has The Watershed Protection Fee

The 2015 Maryland General Assembly passed and the Governor signed SB 863, which lifted the state mandate requiring 10 local jurisdictions to establish a Watershed Protection Fee. However, this bill did not lift the federal mandate requiring local jurisdictions to treat impervious surfaces (such as parking lots) within their borders. Howard County is still required to treat 20 percent of its total curently untreated impervious area by 2019 under present requirements.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, Howard County experienced a $15.8 million shortfall, requiring mid-year budget cuts. Further, the county anticipates only $15.6 million in increased revenue for FY 2016, with the majority of that money automatically assigned to the Howard County Public School System to fulfill the State’s Maintenance of Effort formula.  This challenging fiscal situation led the Spending Affordability Committee to recommend the continuation of the Watershed Protection Fee for FY 2016. Based on this recommendation, the County Executive determined it to be fiscally prudent to continue the Watershed Protection Fee for FY 2016 and beyond. 

The Watershed Protection Fee will be included on the real property tax bills which will be issued July 1 of each year and is only billed once per year.  

Quick Links:

- View the impervious area being billed on your commercial or nonprofit property click here.

- If you believe you were billed in error (note County law only allows adjustments for 3 specific reasons) please complete the Adjustment Request Form here.

- Reduce your property’s fee with a fee credit and help improve the quality of local waterways by adopting stormwater management practices. Learn more here.