As it stands, God is responsible for anything beyond two inches of stormwater runoff
The Maryland Department of Environment is responsible for enforcing this law. What this used to mean around Annapolis was that one inspector, Chris W., who is a very diligent guy, was responsible for inspecting a huge area that included not only the city but also Anne Arundel County.
But nobody was happy. Citizens felt they were getting the run around, and city staff were getting yelled at for not enforcing a law over which they had no authority.
That’s where I come in. I’ve been doing environmental work for the City of Annapolis for 16 years, eight with Moyer.
I’ve seen a lot, but working for Mayor Josh Cohen as a part-time erosion and sediment inspector has been an eye-opening experience. The city has two inspectors. Yet at any given time, we have around 60 active projects, from small additions on a house to the building of the new Germantown Elementary School. We visit each small site at least once every two weeks and the big jobs weekly.
Last fall, we had more than six inches of rainfall in one day. Nowadays it is not uncommon to have gully washers in the two-to-three-inch range at least once a month. Yes, our weather is changing.
But our laws aren’t.
No matter how much it rains, developers are responsible for managing only the first inch. All the inches after that are essentially acts of god.
Engineering plans are drawn up based on controlling one inch. Silt fences can handle only about two.
Developers make an honest effort to do what’s right. They don’t want bad publicity or to kill the Bay. They really don’t want inspectors shutting down their jobs whenever there’s a bad storm.
Everyone is doing their job and following the law, but the creeks turn brown and people always assume the worst.
Of all the million pinpricks killing the Bay, in a city like Annapolis the biggest culprit is what runs into our storm drains every time it rains.
Who will stop the rain?
Either we change the law — or else point the finger at the real culprit, Mother Nature.
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