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County Executive Ball Pre-Files Two Resolutions To Protect Ellicott City and Plumtree Watersheds

County Executive Ball Pre-Files Two Resolutions To Protect Ellicott City and Plumtree Watersheds

August 23, 2019

Media Contact: Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022

ELLICOTT CITY – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball pre-filed two resolutions that would strengthen development regulations and fees to protect the Tiber Branch and Plumtree Branch watersheds and mitigate flooding in Ellicott City. The first resolution would require development to meet higher standards for storm water management, addressing the short duration, high-intensity storms that caused recent, devastating flooding in 2016 and 2018, and establishing a more rigorous process for permitting the use of fees-in-lieu. The second resolution would increase storm water management in-lieu fees and bring them up-to-date to reflect current costs for constructing storm water management facilities. Read the full text of Resolution 123-2019 here and Resolution 122-2019 here.

“This legislation represents significant action to strengthen environmental protection in our watersheds and plan for the future with previous storms in mind. In addition to our mitigation work through ‘EC Safe and Sound,’ this legislation will address development and help protect Ellicott City,” said Ball. “Armed with lessons of the past, we are making positive change to serve both the land and the people of our community. By decreasing storm runoff, we will help mitigate flooding and increase safety for all.”

“Increasing requirements of development in these sensitive watersheds is in line with recommendations made by the Flood Workgroup and other advisory groups and will go a long way towards protecting the watersheds for the future,” said Lori Lilly, Executive Director of Howard EcoWorks.

  1. Storm Water Management Requirements

The Tiber Branch Watershed and Plumtree Branch Watershed Safety Act (CB56-2018) required storm water management to be analyzed for both watersheds. This resolution implements some of the resulting recommendations, which would require future developments to manage short duration, high intensity storms. The goal is to provide adequate management for stormwater runoff, to help mitigate flooding.

The resolution amends Volume I (Storm Drainage) of Howard County’s Design Manual to require the management of a 3.55-hour, 6.6-inch storm (equivalent to the July 30, 2016 storm) in both watersheds, as well as a requirement to address a 10-year, 24-hour (4.9 inch) and 100-year, 24-hour (8.51 inch) storm in the Plumtree Branch watershed. These requirements would extend to all projects in both watersheds, regardless of when a developer received subdivision or site development plan approval.

The goal for storm water management is to reduce peak runoff for development equal to or less than pre-development site conditions, which are modeled as “woods in good condition.”

  1. Storm Water Management Fees-in-lieu

This resolution works as a companion to the first by providing an alternative option, only where storm water management facilities cannot be accommodated on-site due to engineering or site constraints.

It would amend the fees-in-lieu to construct stormwater management by increasing from $72,000 to $175,000 per acre foot of water storage, to construct storm water facilities associated with a development project.

To determine these new fees, the County conducted case studies of existing storm water management ponds to arrive at a per acre foot cost to store storm water. The fees would only be paid if there are no viable options to adequately manage storm water on-site. Any funds collected by the Department of Planning and Zoning (DPZ) would go toward flood mitigation efforts in the watershed.