Two studies on storm water runoff in Bowie could trickle down to taxpayers’ pockets.
The city plans to commission the studies later this year. While the first study will examine the amount of runoff in the city, the second will make recommendations on ways to improve or mitigate storm water runoff in the city, said Jim Henrikson, director of Bowie’s Department of Public Works.
Depending on how extensive the recommendations are, the city may have to consider new ways to fund them, said Bowie Councilman Todd Turner (at large).
“We might see a storm water management tax or rain barrels brought to homes,” he said.
The studies come as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated it intends to require a reduction in storm water runoff that heads into environmental resources such as the Chesapeake Bay. The state has in turn pushed to reduce the amount of impervious surfaces — areas such as streets and parking lots that do not absorb rain water — in the state by about 20 percent, Henrikson said. Storm water runoff runs the risk of carrying large amounts of water and pollutants into habitats not designed to handle them.
“[The studies are] going to see what’s out there and how should it be upgraded to improve it,” Henrikson said. “This could cost Bowie $40 million in the end.”
Performing a study to get a handle of the state of the city’s storm water program is a step toward getting a clearer view of the cost of such work, Turner said.
“Nobody really knows, so we’re estimating, guesstimating what the cost would be,” he said.
The two studies are expected to cost more than $130,000 and be completed by February, Henrikson said.
The state has established the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus, two chemicals which can upend the balance of ecosystems, coming from the city at 5,4281 pounds and 9,497 pounds per year, respectively. Using that baseline, the city is required to reduce its Total Maximum Daily Load of Nitrogen by 24 percent and reduce phosphorus by 37 percent by 2020.
Improving storm water management across the city could yield benefits such as reducing flooding and other issues such as those that popped up sporadically across the city during the heavy rain that fell after Hurricane Irene hit the region last year, said City Councilman Henri Gardner (District 3), the council’s liaison with the city’s Environmental Advisory Committee.
“They’ll be less of a problem for our residents and our businesses,” he said.