BY GRANT WHITTINGTON — At the Dec. 2 Hyattsville City Council meeting, the a representative from the Chesapeake Bay Trust gave a presentation on stormwater management rebates available for residential and commercial properties. Program coordinator Natalia Sanchez said Prince George’s County residents could apply for a rebate by employing one or more pre-approved stormwater reduction techniques..

Some of the qualifying stormwater management practices include: rain barrels, certain types of trees, rain gardens and removing paved areas. Residents can earn up to $2,000 from engaging in the program, according to Sanchez, and businesses and multifamily dwellings could qualify for up to $20,000. The current rebate for rain barrels is $50 per 100 gallons of water stored.

To participate in the program, homeowners need to fill out an application and schedule a pre-installation visit, which Sanchez said are conducted by her and do not apply to rain barrels.  A post-installation visit is also conducted before a rebate check is issued. Sanchez said that if a project has been installed within the last year, she has been able to get rebates issued with receipts.

The Rain Water Rebate Program aims to lessen the amount of stormwater that runs directly into storm drains and waterways. Sanchez said a common misconception is for residents to think the water is treated before falling into drains. Stormwater can pick up bacteria and pathogens harmful to both humans and animals, debris such as cigarette buds and plastic bags, and can gather excess nutrients from fertilizers, she said.  By law, according to Sanchez, Prince George’s County is required to treat the pollution.

“81 percent of [Prince George’s] was developed before stormwater management best practices were required,” Sanchez said. “It’s a huge problem, and it’s the number one cause of impaired waters in Prince George’s County.”

“There is such little public land that they can put projects on, they realized we need to get individuals involved, we need to get individual landowners involved and try to make our waters fishable and swimmable ,” Sanchez said.

Councilmember Patrick Paschall (Ward 3) said he agreed that the excess stormwater flowing into waterways is concerning, but he believes residents will respond to the incentives the Rain Check Rebate Program is offering.

“It’s a great opportunity for Hyattsville residents to save some money or get some money back for sustainability practices they’ve engaged in,” Paschall said. “It’s a good incentive for Hyattsville residents to practice sustainability which is a value that the City of Hyattsville supports.”

Helping the city to prevent stormwater from entering waterways while receiving financial incentive is a “win-win-win situation for residents”, according to Sanchez.

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