Environmental Groups: Bad Time to Drop ‘Rain Tax’ Amid High Fish Kills in Md.

BALTIMORE — With fish kills estimated at 100,000 in Baltimore County’s Middle River, environmental groups say it’s a bad time to kill the “rain tax.”

Elaine Lutz says with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation says storm water pollution is likely to be the cause of the fish kills. The fish include largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegills, crappies, chain pickerel, pumpkinseed sunfish, carp, killifish and Atlantic menhaden.

“There were significant fish kills in the smaller streams and rivers that feed into the Middle River, and then obviously hundreds if not thousands of dead fish in the Middle River,” Lutz says.

A preliminary investigation by the Department of Environment showed a strain of algae that is toxic to fish has caused the kill, but it is still unclear what led to the proliferation of the algae.

Jay Apperson, spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment, says the fish kill appears to be the largest in Maryland this year.

Baltimore County Councilmember Wade Kach says despite their recent move to kill the rain tax, “there is no intention by the County Council’s part to water down the storm water remediation program.”

Kach says Baltimore County is legally obligated to pay for storm water remediation, and the funds will likely be pulled from the general fund or surplus funds.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz was opposed to that move on the basis it might take funds from other needed programs.

Lutz says she hopes other counties don’t follow suit because the so-called “rain tax” is a stable source of funding to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

WNEW’s Jenny Glick contributed to this report. Follow her and WNEW on Twitter.

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