Rockville is years ahead in attaining a goal for treating stormwater and is working to stay ahead of the needs created by development planned for the city in the coming years, city staff told the Mayor and Council during a presentation, Oct. 15.

The presentation included an overview of requirements of a new federal permit that regulates pollutants discharged into waterways. One such requirement calls for the city to develop a plan, by 2023, to treat 20 percent of the impervious surface (e.g., roads, parking lots and rooftops) within Rockville.

While the city believes it has already met the 20 percent goal, the Maryland Department of Environment must confirm that the goal has been reached. Meanwhile, city staff is proposing minor changes to the city’s stormwater management program. These changes will allow Rockville to meet new permit requirements for controlling pollution at its source, and to respond to the city’s storm-water needs as more land is developed in coming years.
The city is looking to make these changes while maintaining the Stormwater Utility Fee at its current rate through Fiscal Year 2021, which ends June 30, 2022. Every property owner in the city pays the fee, including the city itself. All residential property owners pay a flat fee of $132 per year. Businesses, houses of worship, government agencies and schools each pay a fee based on the amount of impervious surface on their property.

The rate goes toward a variety of activities, including enforcing water quality protection ordinances, regulating stormwater management treatment during development and Capital Improvements Program projects such as stream restorations, storm drain rehabilitation and improvements to stormwater management ponds. One such project will dredge and deepen a 38-year-old pond on Mt. Vernon Place, expanding its capacity to collect and slowly release stormwater. Doing so helps prevent erosion and flooding downstream. It also reduces pollution in local tributaries that flow to the Chesapeake Bay.

Since Rockville created the first stormwater program in Maryland, in 1978, to address flooding, the program has evolved to focus on protecting water quality. Proposed changes to the program include additional resources to handle more complex tracking and reporting requirements, and more stringent design review and construction management for construction projects, and to expand the city’s commercial compliance inspection program to effectively stop pollution at it source.