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Last night, the Baltimore City Council held a public hearing on two ordinances that would provide transparency and accountability for how funds being collected from Baltimore City residents intended to be used for stormwater infrastructure improvements and environmental restoration are being spent. Check out the bills for yourself:

I was also honored to testify on behalf of Clean Water Action in support of these ordinances. You can read my full testimony below:

June 8, 2016 - City of Baltimore Council Bills 16-0301R, 16-0302R

Good Evening. My name is Jennifer Kunze and I am the Maryland Program Organizer for Clean Water Action, an environmental organization with over 50,000 members in the State of Maryland. Tonight, I am here to urge the City Council to support Councilman Costello’s Storm Water Utility Resolutions on behalf of our more than 3,000 members who live here in Baltimore City.

Baltimore’s issues with polluted stormwater run-off need to be addressed immediately and transparently. When it rains in Baltimore City, water from our streets, sidewalks, and other impervious surfaces becomes polluted runoff, carrying trash, sediment, and other pollutants into our streams and the Inner Harbor. Not only does polluted run-off impact water quality, it also overwhelms our waste water system causing sewage to overflow into our waterways and homes.

These resolutions are crucial for Baltimore’s environment and public health because they would collect information on how the City is spending its stormwater management fee revenue and investigate ways to move stormwater-related projects forward as quickly as possible.

Over the past few years, I have worked with my church in East Baltimore and several nonprofit organizations in this room to install several of the kinds of projects this revenue could be funding in our communities, including rain gardens, rain cisterns, and depaving projects. We first began planning for these projects in December 2013, after the Stormwater Management Fee collection began, and will complete our last of many rain garden volunteer plantings next week. These projects took place on church grounds, community green spaces preserved in Charm City Land Trust, and city-owned lots accessed through the Adopt-A-Lot program, and were chosen because they not only would provide benefits to the broader environment but would also address community concerns about local flooding and illegal dumping.

The revenue collected by the stormwater fee could be going toward green infrastructure projects like these to benefit the neighborhoods where it is assessed by providing funding for community projects that reduce flooding, discourage dumping, and provide relaxing and restoring green spaces for residents. Given the many benefits of stormwater infrastructure improvements in Baltimore, it is imperative that use of these funds for projects in our communities begin as quickly as possible, with transparency to show residents where their money is being spent. '

On behalf of Clean Water Action and our Baltimore City membership, I respectfully ask the City Council to support these stormwater resolutions. Thank you.

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