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Bill to fund Maryland's Flood Management Program

Posted at 9:32 PM, Feb 19, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Howard County Executive Calvin Ball testified in Annapolis on Tuesday in search for grant money from the state to help with the damage done to Ellicott City by the 2016 and 2018 floods.

"It's critical for our federal partners, are state partners and our local partners to come together so that Ellicott City can be that example of safety, resiliency and success for the rest of the country," said Ball.

Maryland established its comprehensive Flood Management Grant Program in 1976. The program established a fund to help manage flood areas but, the state has not put money in the grant program since 2002.

The governor says he will put $5 million back into this fund in 2019. Delegate Courtney Watson is sponsoring the bill.

"Well it's a grant program that any jurisdiction or municipality can apply for. As Howard County Executive I'm going to apply for it for Howard County," said Ball.

This bill expands the policy and purposes to include infrastructure repairs, debris removal, and emergency protection work associated with a flood event. The 2016 flood cost Ellicott City $11 million in damages. The latest flood in 2018 left a whopping clean up bill of more than $27 million.

County Executive Ball says this money will help more than just the residents of Ellicott City.

"It is critical for not only the Main Street businesses but also the residents and the visitors, those who come to visit Main Street in Ellicott City and those who depend on it for their livelihoods, this is essential," said Ball.

If the bill passes, the new law would take effect June 1st of 2019.

And that is not the only legislation Ball is working on. Ball announced he is pre-filing legislation that would allow county workers to access streams on private property to remove debris that could potentially cause flooding.

“It’s important to remove debris from streams to prevent future flooding. That means we sometimes need to go onto private property,” said Ball. “Currently, the right-of-entry onto private property is negotiated on a case by case basis, which can take an extended period of time and could jeopardize public safety.”

The legislation would let the Department of Public Works to enter any building, structure, or premises to inspect streams and other waterways.

“The County will continue to negotiate with individual property owners for quick access to the location of debris,” said James M. Irvin, Director of the Howard County Department of Public Works. “We believe this legislation will help to facilitate that process.”

Another part of the legislation would clarify existing authority for the county to prevent any illegal dumping.