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Stormwater Management - MS4

Stormwater Management Utility Fee Enacted

At their meeting on September 12, 2022, the Mayor and Board of Commissioners enacted a $20.00 per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) fee on all real property in the Town, which includes real property that is tax exempt.  An ERU is the standard unit of measure to equate non-residential or multi-family residential properties to the average impervious surface area of a single family residential property in the Town.  One ERU equals 2,932 square feet of impervious surface area.  Each property’s fee will be strictly dependent on the amount of impervious surface.  The fee will be as follows:

Residential:

  • 20% of the properties (173 parcels) will be charge ½  ERU = $10.00 per year or $2.50 per quarter.  These are properties with less than or equal to 1,466 square feet of impervious surface.
  • 69% of the properties (616 parcels) will be charged 1 ERU = $20.00 per year, or $5.00 per quarter.  These are properties with greater than 1,466 and less than or equal to 4,398 square feet of impervious surface.
  • 11% of the properties (96 parcels) will be charged more than 1 ERU.  These are properties with greater than 4,398 square feet of impervious surface.

Non-residential:

  • 16% of the properties (11 parcels) will be charge ½  ERU = $10.00 per year, or $2.50 per quarter.  These are properties with less than or equal to 1,466 square feet of impervious surface.
  • 12% of the properties (8 parcels) will be charged 1 ERU = $20.00 per year, or $5.00 per quarter.  These are properties with greater than 1,466 and less than or equal to 4,398 square feet of impervious surface.
  • 72% of the properties (49 parcels) will be charged more than 1 ERU.  These are properties with greater than 4,398 square feet of impervious surface.

Fees collected will be deposited into the newly created Stormwater Management Enterprise Fund, which will be used only to fund stormwater management, storm drainage, and water resources programs and services required by the Town’s mandatory National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4).  This permit is an unfunded federal and state mandate.  Fees will be added to quarterly sewer, water, and trash bills starting in January 2023, and it is expected to generate approximately $34,500.00 per year.  

Within 30 days after the date of the initial bill assessing the stormwater management utility fee to the property owner, the owner may request an adjustment of the stormwater management utility fee.  A request for an adjustment must be submitted to the Town Planner in writing, stating the grounds for the request.  The Town Planner may adjust the utility fee if:

  1. The impervious surface area was measured incorrectly;
  2. There is a mathematical error in calculating the stormwater management utility fee;
  3. A credit was not properly applied (non-residential properties only); or
  4. The property owner invoiced for the fee was identified in error. 

For questions regarding the new fee and how this will impact your particular property, please contact Zach Gulden, Town Planner, at 301-600-6309 or by email at zgulden@emmitsburgmd.gov.  

Screenshot 2022-06-24 152553

The Mayor and Board of Commissioners are pleased to announce that the Town of Emmitsburg has been awarded a Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Town’s grant in the amount of $121,400.00 from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 3 and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.  This funding will be used in order reconstruct the existing dry extended detention pond through the installation of a sediment trapping forebay and micropool.  With this project, we will:
  1. Implement water quality controls capable of treating 7.96 acres of impervious area to address nutrient loading into the nearby Upper Monocacy River (with eventual drainage into the Chesapeake Bay). The proposed improvements will remove 57.94 lbs/year of nitrogen, 9.47 lbs/yr of phosphorus, and 14.51 tons/yr of total suspended solids. 
  2. Increase water quantity controls in anticipation of increased storm frequencies and intensities without increasing discharge flows.
  3. Create an aquatic and wetland fringe habitat within the existing footprint of the dry extended detention pond.
  4. Improve the biodiversity of the stormwater management feature through comprehensive planting and maintenance plans.

This project is necessary in order for the Town to meet its mandatory requirements under the federal Clean Water Act to improve water quality in Maryland’s streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. 

Stormwater Advisory Committee
In 2018, Emmitsburg was issued a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit by the Maryland Department of the Environment to manage stormwater runoff. This requires the implementation of six minimum control measures, as well as treating stormwater from 20% of the Town’s impervious surfaces through best management practices (BMPs).  The permitting cycle is continuous and permanent. After this permit term (2018-2023), new permits will be issued every five years. This is an expensive unfunded mandate, and it is estimated that the impervious surface restoration requirement alone will cost the Town over $700,000 during this permitting cycle.  Since the permit will continue indefinitely, the Town is considering ways to fund future MS4 projects. Emmitsburg has formed a Stormwater Advisory Committee and the Board of Commissioners has engaged the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center (EFC) to conduct a stormwater financing feasibility study. Through a series of four public meetings, EFC will present the Advisory Committee with information about potential financing options to help determine the most equitable way to fund the Town's stormwater program.

Stormwater Advisory Committee Meeting #1 Educational Brochure
Stormwater Advisory Committee Meeting #2 Educational Brochure
Stormwater Adviosry Committee Meeting #3 Educational Brochure
Stormwater Advisory Committee Meeting #4 Educational Brochure
Stormwater Advisory Committee Meeting #5 Educational Brochure

At their meeting on March 7, 2022, the Board of Commissioners voted to pursue the implementation of a stormwater utility in order to help fund the Town's federal and state mandated MS4 permit. The recommended fee was set at $20.00 per ERU.

Stormwater Utility Feasibility Study Executive Summary
Stormwater Utility Feasibility Study Final Report


Grant Funding & Awards
four logos aligned: chesapeake bay trust, chesapeake bay program, Maryland DNR and MDE

An Estimated $434,712 in Stormwater Management Costs Saved
09/01/2021: A large scale reforestation project has begun in Frederick County led by Stream-Link Education.  Thousands of trees are being planted, some of which are on land owned by the Town and by the Daughter's of Charity in Emmitsburg.  These trees will be planted creating a forest buffer.  A forest buffer reduces pollutants that would enter into rivers and bays.  Read the full press release here.  A huge thank you to Stream-Link Education and all the volunteers making this possible.

$34,000 in Grant Funding Awarded

12/14/2020: The Mayor and Board of Commissioners are pleased to announce that the Town of Emmitsburg has been awarded a Watershed Assistance Grant in the amount of $34,000.00 from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of Environment, Chesapeake Bay Program, and Chesapeake Bay Trust.  This funding will be used in order to develop construction ready designs to rehabilitate the existing detention basin at the Silo Hill residential development into a vegetated infiltration basin / bioretention.  Subtasks include grant administration assistance, permitting, and design.  This project is necessary in order for the Town to meet its mandatory requirements under the federal Clean Water Act to improve water quality in Maryland’s streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. 

$17,538 in Grant Funding Awarded
06/22/2020: The Mayor and Board of Commissioners are pleased to announce that the Town of Emmitsburg has been awarded a Green Streets, Green Jobs, & Green Towns grant in the amount of $17,538.00 from the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 2, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.  This funding will be used in order to create a high-performing green street conceptual plan for North Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  Currently, storm water sheet flows down North Seton Avenue and goes directly into Flat Run stream, which causes stream bank erosion and frequent flooding that entraps the residents of the Northgate residential development. This project will create a plan in order to greatly reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and pollution that is piped and discharged directly into local streams, protect and restore the health of local waterways, and incorporate flood hazard mitigation.  A public meeting will be held later this year in order to solicit feedback on the proposed conceptual plan.

Other Grant Announcements
Silo Hill Poster

Silo Hill Cross Section Poster

July 28, 2021 Silo Hill Storm Water Management Basin Project Meeting:



What is MS4?

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) is a system of conveyances including roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, catch basins, curbs, gutters, ditches, man-made channels, or storm drains. As stormwater runs over driveways, lawns and sidewalks it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants. Polluted stormwater runoff is often conveyed to MS4s and ultimately discharged into local rivers and streams without treatment. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged into the water bodies we use for recreation and providing drinking water. Polluted runoff is the nation’s greatest threat to clean water.
ontheground - Copy

Illicit Discharges
An illicit discharge is defined as any unauthorized discharge other than clean stormwater released into the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). Illicit connections may be intentional or may be the result of connections made years ago when water quality issues were not a concern. 

The types of illicit discharges vary widely with some examples being: 

  • Waste oil, antifreeze, paint, trash or other household chemicals
  • Car wash, laundry, and industrial wastewaters
  • Spills on roadways and other accidents
  • Failing septic systems and illegal dumping practices
  • Improper disposal of sewage from recreational practices such as boating or camping 

Common indicators of illicit discharges include abnormal odors, strange colors, or oil sheen present around or inside storm inlets or pipes. Keeping harmful substances out of our water benefits everyone; environmentally and economically.

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If you witness or become aware of an illicit discharge or illegal dumping, please contact:

Zachary R. Gulden, MPA
Town Planner
Town of Emmitsburg
300A South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
Phone: 301-600-6309
Fax: 301-600-6313


Listed below are the six minimum control measures that the Town must incorporate into the stormwater management program.  These measures are expected to result in significant reductions of pollutants discharged into receiving waterbodies.

  1. Public Education and Outreach – An informed and knowledgeable community is crucial to the success of a stormwater management program, since it helps to ensure greater support and program compliance as the public becomes aware of individual actions they can take to protect or improve the quality of area waters.
  2. Public Participation/Involvement – An active and involved community allows for broader public support, a broader base of expertise and a connection to other local environmental programs.
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination – Illicit discharges are untreated discharges that could contribute high levels of pollutants, including heavy metals, toxics, oil and grease, solvents, nutrients, viruses and bacteria to receiving waterbodies. The Town is required to develop, implement and enforce an illicit discharge detection and elimination program.
  4. Construction Site Runoff Control – Stormwater runoff from construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality. As stormwater flows over a construction site, it can pick up pollutants like sediment, debris, and chemicals and transport these to a nearby storm sewer system or directly to a river, lake or stream.
  5. Post-Construction Runoff Control – Increased impervious surfaces, like parking lots, driveways, and rooftops, interrupt the natural cycle of gradual percolation of water through vegetation and soil. Instead, water is collected from surfaces such as asphalt and concrete and routed to drainage systems where large volumes of runoff quickly flow to the nearest receiving water. The effects of this process can include stream bank scouring and downstream flooding, which often lead to a loss of aquatic life and damage to property. Ordinances and other regulations are required to determine the appropriate best management practices and to ensure adequate long-term operation and maintenance of storm water controls.
  6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping – This measure involves recognizing the benefits of pollution prevention practices and includes the development and implementation of an operation and maintenance program. Reducing pollutant runoff from municipal operations into the storm sewer system can include employee training on how to incorporate pollution prevention/good housekeeping techniques into municipal operations.

Federal & State Penalties for MS4 Permit Noncompliance

  •  “Duty to comply” – pg. 16 of permit.
    • “The permittee must comply with all conditions of this general permit.  Any permit noncompliance constitutes a violation of the Clean Water Act and is grounds for enforcement action.” 
    • Criminal Penalties
      • “Negligent violations… shall be punished by a fine of not less than $2,500 nor more than $25,000 per day of violation, or by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or by both. If a conviction of a person is for a violation committed after a first conviction of such person under this paragraph, punishment shall be by a fine of not more than $50,000 per day of violation, or by imprisonment of not more than 2 years, or by both.”
      • “Knowing violations… shall be punished by a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $50,000 per day of violation, or by imprisonment for not more than 3 years, or by both. If a conviction of a person is for a violation committed after a first conviction of such person under this paragraph, punishment shall be by a fine of not more than $100,000 per day of violation, or by imprisonment of not more than 6 years, or by both.”
      • “Knowing endangerment…subject to a fine of not more than $250,000 or imprisonment of not more than 15 years, or both. A person which is an organization shall, upon conviction of violating this subparagraph, be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000,000. If a conviction of a person is for a violation committed after a first conviction of such person under this paragraph, the maximum punishment shall be doubled with respect to both fine and imprisonment.”
    • Civil Penalties
      • “shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $25,000 per day for each violation.”
    • Civil Penalties
      • “Section 9-342 – … A person who violates any condition of this permit is liable to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation, to be collected in a civil action brought by MDE, with each day a violation continues being a separate violation.  This section further authorizes MDE to impose upon any person who violates a permit condition administration civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, up to $100,000.”
    • Criminal Penalties
      • “Section 9-343 - … Any person who violates a permit condition is subject to a criminal penalty not exceeding $25,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both for a first offense.  For a second offense, it provides for a fine not exceeding $50,000 and up to two years imprisonment.” 
    • “Penalties Under the Clean Water Act – Civil & Criminal” – pg. 17.
    • “Penalties under the State’s Environment Article – Civil & Criminal” – pg. 17

Links/Additional Information

MS4 General Discharge Permit No. 13-IM-5500 – 10/31/2018 – 10/30/2023

Annual Reports

01/2016 – 12/2017

01/2018 – 10/30/2018

07/01/2018 - 06/30/2019
07/01/2019 - 06/30/2020
07/01/2020 - 06/30/2021

MS4 Program Documents
Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance
Stormwater Management Ordinance
Educational Materials