You can make a big impact on stormwater pollution by increasing the amount of stormwater runoff absorbed on your nonprofit property. Plus, you'll also reduce your Watershed Protection Fee.
Watershed Protection Fee
The Watershed Protection Fee aims to improve the water quality of streams and rivers in your neighborhood 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.
All non-residential properties, including nonprofits, are charged at a rate of $15 per 500 square feet of impervious surface based on aerial photography. However, the Watershed Protection Fee legislation established a unique partnership program option for nonprofit properties that reduces the financial impact to the organization while also improving stormwater runoff controls on the property.
If a nonprofit organization agrees to enter into a partnership MOU with the County, allowing the County to assess on-site treatment opportunities to the maximum extent practicable (MEP), which may be less than 100 percent of the total site's stormwater treatment needs given space limitations, and the property owner agrees to implement the identified practices, then 100 percent of the Watershed Protection Fee is waived for the owner.
The process includes:
- Step 1: Complete a Partnership Agreement (after this point, a 100 percent credit to the fee is awarded for future billings contingent on implementation of the BMPs. The credit is not awarded retroactively to past payments. You only need to apply to the Partnership once, it automatically renews each year as long as you are complying with the Partnership Agreement.).
- Step 2: The County (or its consultant) conducts a site assessment.
- Step 3: The County and the nonprofit agree to on-site practices that will meet the maximum extent practicable (MEP), based on site assessment. (This is the last opportunity for a nonprofit to withdraw from the partnership. If they withdraw, the fee will resume at the next billing cycle.)
- Step 4: The County and the nonprofit sign a Scope of Work that outlines the implementation and maintenance of the practices to be installed.
- Step 5: The practices are installed on the nonprofit property (solidifying their partnership and the 100 percent credit to the fee).
- Step 6: The County verifies that the practices are functioning as intended while the nonprofit oversees maintenance. Every three years the nonprofit will submit documentation to the County, confiming the practices are still functioning as intended, with the option for a County site visit to confirm.
The County may work with nonprofit property owners to assist in the cost of implementing the identified stormwater management practices.
If a nonprofit organization does not agree to an MOU, or later opts out of the partnership, then the Watershed Protection Fee will be calculated at the non-residential/commercial rate described above. Should a nonprofit organization without an MOU install stormwater control practices, they can be credited at percent equivalent to the impervious square footage treated to current standards.
The deadline for completion of the Partnership Agreement is April 1 of each year to receive a 100% credit to the July 1 Fee of that same year. Agreements accepted after April 1 will be applied to the following year's bill and not retroactively awarded to past bills.