By Thomas M. Farasy

As the President of the Maryland State Builders Association, we support the cleanup of the Bay. We support having all of the stakeholders at the table that contribute to the pollution of the Bay and we want all of the stakeholders to have skin in the game proportional to their pollutant contribution. Without this, any goal or target will be in serious jeopardy of not yet meeting another goal. Something that none of us want.

We supported the Stormwater Legislation in 2007; and we were involved to a point in the regulation vetting process. We supported the regulations in 2008 subject to grandfathering and redevelopment principles, which were not detailed until after the regulation comment period expired (May 2009). We were told “don’t worry the regulations are/will be flexible”.

In October, 2009, it became crystal clear to us that there will be no grandfathering and the standards and alternative practices for redevelopment were not going to be flexible enough. The impact of these regulations on existing projects, pipeline projects that have been stalled because of the economy and phased projects and redevelopment projects, is clear. We have to modify our approved plans and resubmit.

This will cause a serious deterioration to the pipeline; many projects will not go forward, our investment value will be de-valued, and business will react by choosing Greenfield development over redevelopment or more likely, just do business elsewhere. Virginia, where less stringent regulations have been put on hold because of similar impacts, will certainly be tempting.

So in Maryland, we will be busy spending money on engineering, getting our plans reapproved; while in other states they will be building developments, hiring people, and bringing new employees and homeowners to their state. The inaction to create a policy adjustment of the stormwater regulations will extend the recession in Maryland.

Maryland has already lost 60,000 real estate and construction jobs with little hope of recovery for years to come without a policy adjustment of the stormwater regulations.

We have studied the EPA pollutant data for the Chesapeake Bay, and according to EPA’s latest Watershed Model (No. 5.2); new development has a tiny impact on the Bay.

The 2008 EPA data for the State of Maryland shows the following information:
o New Construction used 8,582 acres or .146% of total land use acres (less than 20/100's of 1%).
o New Construction’s contribution of the nitrogen to the Bay is 163,544 lbs. or .282 % of the total (less than 30/100's of 1%).
o New Construction’s contribution of the phosphorus to the Bay is 33,091 lbs. or 1.069% of the total.
o New Construction’s contribution of sediment the Bay is 31,270 lbs. or 3.052 % of the total.

This EPA data has some clear messages - new construction is not the primary cause of the Bay’s troubles; we stand ready to do our share but we are only 3% of the sediment pie!

The job losses resulting from the immediate implementation of the stormwater regulations will not buy us a measurably cleaner Bay.

What is not being addressed are programs, revenue structures, amongst other things, that will allow the other contributors that add 99+% to nitrogen and phosphorous pollutants and 97% of the sediment pollutant to the Bay to participate.

So when the EPA and the State of Maryland set their goals and timelines, we want it to be successful. This approach includes all of us taking ownership and forming a public private partnership.

Thomas M. Farasy is President of the Maryland State Builders Association.