Urge MDE: Strengthen Stormwater Pollution Controls and Protect Our Maryland Communities

Maryland Department of Environment (MDE)

Will Parson Chesapeake Bay Program

When it rains or when snow melts, water flows over land and hard surfaces like paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops and does not soak into the ground. This urban and suburban polluted runoff (or stormwater runoff) picks up pollutants such as trash, metals, chemicals, oils and sediment that harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and the Chesapeake Bay. Some of these pollutants contain toxic and carcinogenic substances that threaten human health and aquatic life.

Stormwater causes serious flooding, and it carries pollutants that impact more than just our waterways. Polluted stormwater deposits pollutants in our land, air, and water. Plants, including produce we eat, absorb it. Urban areas with fewer trees and greenspaces have increased levels of stormwater and increased flooding. Statistically, these areas have lower income populations and higher percentages of residents of color.

Climate change adaptation and environmental justice issues must be a priority for Maryland's leaders. There are many opportunities to do more to reduce stormwater pollution and protect our communities. Unfortunately, in several recently proposed stormwater permits, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is proposing to roll back the state’s most consequential climate adaptation policy.

Add your name to the petition below calling on MDE to stand up for polluted runoff protections for the health of all Marylanders and our waterways.

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By signing this petition you agree to be contacted by any of the following organizations leading this petition: Center for Progressive Reform, Chesapeake Legal Alliance, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Environmental Integrity Project. You may unsubscribe at any time.

To: Maryland Department of Environment (MDE)
From: [Your Name]

Maryland’s practices with regard to stormwater runoff from construction sites, industrial facilities, and municipal stormwater systems are not keeping pace with climate change, a growing population, and increased development. Federal data show that Maryland has experienced a dramatic increase in rainfall in just the last decade. This documented increase in the frequency and severity of storms increases flooding and pollution flows and poses a significant risk to vulnerable populations who often bear the brunt of environmental burdens. We call on the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) to create strong, enforceable stormwater permits for all sectors requiring tangible, proven practices to control polluted runoff and reduce Marylanders’ exposure to the toxins in this untreated water pollution. We also call on MDE to regularly review all permittees’ performance and undertake enforcement actions when permittees are failing to meet permit terms.

Specifically, we call on MDE to:

- Ensure the stormwater permits do not backslide from the 20% impervious surface restoration requirement, and going forward, that they meaningfully reduce pollution loads to local waters through an outcome-based metric.

- Improve permit enforceability to ensure that inadequate enforcement does not contribute to further environmental injustices or lead to continuing current, or even increasing, levels of pollution.

- Require use of stormwater controls that reduce the volume of polluted runoff sufficiently to manage the increasing precipitation resulting from climate change, with a significant emphasis on “green infrastructure” which infiltrates and evapo-transpires stormwater near where it falls.