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Transcript: How to Fix a Collapsed Storm Pipe? Money.

If you look at East Monument Street between Bradford and Montford, you can’t tell that there was a sinkhole here last year.

Going down 40 feet deep, that is not for the faint of heart at all.

But Kim Burgess, of the city’s public works department, remembers the details well, right down to the call on June 25th. Burgess, who runs the department’s surface water management division, says officials suspected that a 10-foot storm drain pipe buried 40 feet below the surface was the culprit.  There was just one problem.

The original engineering was done somewhere about 1880s and at that time they did a really great job of making sure that the pipe sizes were large enough to accommodate the development; they didn’t do a great job of making sure somebody could always get in there.

In other words, what worked in the 1880s, doesn’t necessarily work in the 21st century. Luckily, they found a manhole on Montford the next day, got two engineers under the street, found the problem and went to work to fix it.
Last year, the General Assembly passed a bill requiring the state’s ten largest jurisdictions to create the fees to inject much needed investment into storm water infrastructure. This, as the Chesapeake Bay’s pollution diet calls for improvements to storm drain systems. Storm water run-off is the bay’s only source of pollution that is increasing. Burgess says, however, that the fees do much more.

They also address some of the flow that’s coming through there, so it’s installing best management practices that not only decrease the peak flow rates but also will provide some water quality treatment through retention volume.

The state law comes about three years after officials in Rockville in Montgomery County implemented their storm water fees. Mark Charles, the city’s Chief of Environmental Management, said that they wanted to get ahead of the curve.

Rockville adopted its storm water fee in anticipation of the bay restoration process and the clean water act permits that we receive through the Maryland Department of the Environment and we expected to be required frankly to ramp up our storm water program and to invest more in improving the system and maximizing our ability to control storm water.

Across metro Baltimore, one jurisdiction, Howard County, has adopted a fee of $15 per 500 square feet of impervious surface – surfaces packed so hard, rain cannot penetrate the soil. County councils in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties are expected to approve new fees later this month. Carroll County has an advisory group working on creating a rate structure. They are to send a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners in June. 
In a later interview, Burgess said Baltimore city residents completed the first step in November when they approved a charter amendment creating the fees.

The next step will be to create the storm water fee structure and also allow for a credit program as well as an appeals process and define what the revenue from the storm water fee will be used for; that’s part of the ordinance and that ordinance is to modify the city code.

Public works officials suggest that home owners would pay between $48 to 144 a year, depending on the size of a home.  Businesses would pay $72 for every 1,050 square feet of surface. 
Which brings us to the third step: once the council passes the ordinance, the Board of Estimates must formally adopt the fees.
I'm Kenneth Burns, reporting in East Baltimore for 88.1, WYPR.