Rain Tax? Maryland to Implement Fees on 'Impervious Surfaces'

Lawmakers in Maryland are set to begin implementing what's been dubbed the "rain tax" in an effort to curtail storm water runoff pollution into the Chesapeake Bay.

In 2010, after research indicated that pollution levels in the Chesapeake Bay were increasing dramatically, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maryland lawmakers to reduce rainwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay in an effort to reduce nitrogen levels by 22 percent and phosphorus by 15 percent from current amounts, according to a previous report by The Gazette.

The cost for such action was estimated at just under $15 billion, but given the economic standing of the state, lawmakers had to devise a plan to raise the funds which would not supplied by the federal government.

The rain tax, known officially as a "Storm Management Fee," will impose a tax on all "impervious surfaces." Those surfaces are defined as anything or material that prevents rain water from seeping into the ground, which then leads to what is known as storm water runoff. Impervious surfaces include roofs, sidewalks, patios, driveways, and other structures or materials that prevent rain water from being absorbed by the ground.

Maryland lawmakers ruled that the state's 10 largest counties needed to raise the money needed and will start with the rain tax in those counties beginning July 1.

The 10 counties that will introduce the rain tax include Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Hartford, Charles, Frederick, Baltimore county, and Baltimore city.

"Fees will be calculated on the surface area of properties as the theory is that roofs, driveways and car parks create more potential for drainage problems and water contamination," according to The Maryland Reporter.

"Councils are supposed to determine how much to charge per square foot, but the fee depends on the size of the building and surrounding paved surfaces," they added.