On Tuesday, July 10 the County Council recently held public hearings on a number of items, including the storm water management compromise. You may remember that outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett proposed using a public-private partnership to complete storm water management projects in the future. Excellent storm water management contributes to clean streams, rivers and a healthy Chesapeake Bay, so it's very important.
Several environmental groups were concerned about the public-private partnership concept for storm water management projects in Montgomery County. Leggett's original proposal was rejected by a majority of Council members. Now a compromise has been reached between Leggett and the Council that addresses the concerns of the environmental groups while preserving the cost-saving aspects of the public-private partnership concept. This compromise was the subject of the public hearing.
Speakers at the hearing included representatives of the Audubon Naturalist Society, Friends of Sligo Creek, the Montgomery County Water Quality Advisory Group, the County Executive, Conservation Montgomery and the MD Sierra Club, Montgomery County Group. Generally they were neutral to positive on the compromise. The compromise includes several safeguards to ensure the environmental integrity of projects. Several speakers suggested that the funding of $20 million be reduced by half because the public-private partnership concept in new to our county. But the amount has been carefully considered; it covers only the first phase of several projects. Oversight is assured by a requirement for quarterly reports to the Council about progress on the projects. Finally the DEP would be required to meet regularly with an advisory group which would provide input and feedback on project issues.
These measures would seem to offer adequate oversight of the new public-private model and justify the spending amount specified in the compromise. After all, more spending means speedier progress on storm water management projects that contribute to improved water quality and a more pristine Chesapeake Bay.