Stormwater Abatement Credits Now Available
Takoma Park has implemented a new program to provide credit to property owners who take measures to mitigate the amount of stormwater runoff from their property.
Beginning this year, any property owner in Takoma Park can receive a partial credit for carrying out qualifying measures to lessen the impact of stormwater—such as tree plantings, installation of rain gardens, permeable pavements, and green roofs, to name only a few. These measures help lessen the effects of excess rainfall that is not absorbed by the ground, trees, or plants.
“These measures are based on best management practice in the field of stormwater management,” says Takoma Park Public Works Director Daryl Braithwaite. “So those measures are the ones that are most effective to stormwater management. And we always want to encourage people to plant more trees.”
Stormwater picks up sediments, oils, debris, and other contaminants from streets and lawns before eventually making its way to waterways like Sligo Creek, the Anacostia River, and the Chesapeake Bay. This can cause erosion—further increasing the pollution going into local waterways—and harm fragile ecosystems.
“The city has seen some flooding certainly on New Hampshire Avenue and the Sligo Creek area,” Braithwaite said. “Given climate change, we’ll be expecting heavier storms and larger quantities of water in the future.”
The maximum credit available to property owners is a 50% reduction of the original Stormwater Utility Fee, according to the city. The new credit program comes at the request of the city council, which last year changed the stormwater utility fee rate from a flat rate of $92 per single-family property annually to a tiered rate based on a $25 fee per 500 square feet of impervious area. Impervious surfaces—like asphalt, concrete, and rooftops—allow little to no stormwater infiltration into the ground.
“The credit is brand new and it was a component the council required when we changed the fee structure last year,” Braithwaite said. “Because the change increased the costs for some property owners the council was sensitive to that.”
Commercial and institutional properties have been charged based on the amount of impervious surface on their property since the implementation of the stormwater fee decades ago.
According to Takoma Park officials, the Montgomery County Parcel Database, which has the most up-to-date impervious area analysis data available, is used to determine the impervious area square footage. The database uses information from a tri-annual LIDAR evaluation that takes aerial images of the impervious area. Residents also have the option of requesting corrections to their assessed impervious surface calculation, if they believe there is an error.
The stormwater credit application can be completed online or printed and returned via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Public Works at 31 Oswego Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The application does require submission of documentation to verify the details of the facility and the amount of impervious area treated. For the first year of the program, applications can be submitted at any time from now through the billing cycle (July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023). The credit will be paid as a refund directly to the property owner for the eligible portion of the stormwater fee. In future years, the application must be received by April 30 in order to be considered for the following year’s billing cycle and the credit will be included as a reduction to the stormwater fee charged. The stormwater utility fee is included in the County property tax bill, listed as Takoma Special.
The credit for tree planting is a one-year credit and the credit for all other measures covers a three-year period. There is a process for recertification of previously approved credit after the three-year period that includes verification that the measure is still in good working order.
There are plenty of ways for Takoma Park residents to help lessen the damage done by stormwater, including sweeping up yard debris; using non-toxic, biodegradable, and recyclable products whenever possible; reducing the amount of paved and impervious areas; and using native ground cover, grasses, and vegetation on your property. For more information on local stormwater management, or to access the program guidance documents and application, visit takomaparkmd.gov/government/public-works/stormwater-management-program.
This article was featured in the June 2022 Newsletter. Visit the Takoma Park Newsletter webpage to see full list of past newsletters.