As Goes Maryland, So Goes L.A.?

chesapeake bay stormwater rain tax pollution fee clean water beaches Los Angeles

We may live on opposite coasts, but pollution runoff affects us all and Marylanders did something about it.

In 2012, Maryland passed legislation that would require the city of Baltmore and the state's nine largest counties to implement stormwater pollution fees to raise revenue to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, serving up some lessons that we can apply here in Los Angeles as we work on our own Clean Water, Clean Beaches measure.

Since its passage at the state level, Maryland’s counties have either approved, or are working to approve, fees their officials find fair for homeowners and businesses…stirring up plenty of debate along the way. In fact, what opponents have termed the “rain tax,” has thrust the mid-Atlantic state’s water pollution solution into the national spotlight. (A similar program was recently enacted in Philadelphia, resulting in a 25-year “Green City, Clean Waters” plan)

An April 16 op-ed in the Baltimore Sun argued in favor of the new fees and disputed the “rain tax” moniker:

“This isn't merely about protecting the bay (although that alone would justify the program) but also about protecting the health of freshwater drinking supplies and preventing local flooding, two issues that should strike most Marylanders pretty close to home. …We aren't taxing rain, we're taxing the pollution all of us generate, however unintentionally. The rain is just the vehicle by which that pollution is swept away.”

We Angelenos can relate, as we import drinkable water and dare not swim in the ocean too soon after a rainfall, so as not to be sickened by pollution runoff. Flooding is also a potential result of climate change here in Southern California.

Which is why we’re working on funding projects that capture and filter rainwater through the passage of the Clean Water Clean Beaches measure, keeping runoff pollution out of our waterways and bolstering groundwater supplies, which could eventually be used for drinking water.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors put the measure on hold in March, but we at Heal the Bay remain hard at work to keep it as strong as possible. The consequences of not doing anything are just too dire.

Concerned about sustainable water supply in Los Angeles? So are we. Contact your Los Angeles County supervisor to support the "Clean Water, Clean Beaches" measure.