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Taxing the Rain

Snow, too, if I had my way

I’d love to tax the rain.     
    Heavy, trouble-causing rains I’d hit with draining fees. Rains that pour and seep into our lower levels, taxing us with sucking it up with the Shop Vac or a multi-thousand dollar remediation job? I’d punish them the same way storm­water-remediation-fee-averse Marylanders say our state’s most hated tax is punishing them. Bad rains would pay at least as much as the $15, $29, $85 or $170 a year some Chesapeake Country homeowners (in the nine taxed counties and Baltimore) and assorted politicians claim are draining our bank accounts.
    Sharing the taxing privileges of government would enable me to exercise their dispensations, too. I’d exempt good rains from taxation, just as churches and assorted not-for-profits are exempt. Light, nourishing do-good rains would pay only a cent — Frederick County’s fee for stormwater remediation.
    Even more, I’d love to tax snow.
    Though with reservations. From late November into early January, white-Christmas dustings would be exempted as welcome visitors — Providing they arrive in amounts of one inch or less. Also tax-free would be go-out-and-play snows falling on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m no Grinch wanting to tax the fun out of sledding and building snow forts and families. As long as they melt before Monday’s rush hour.
    Even as the snow piles of February and March retreat, they make the case for snow and, less visibly, rain taxes.
    Falling and new-fallen snow brings transient beauty. Examine those white flakes and you can imagine purity as well as infinity. If there’s acid rain in those crystals, it’s invisible.
    Old snow is not very pretty, is it? Its sooty crust is visible proof that what falls out of our environment may not be pure as the driven snow.
    When I look at my own personal snow piles, I see more than meets my eye in better weather. My beloved little car’s noxious tailpipe emissions of some 19 pounds of gases per gallon of fuel are usually invisible, being, after all, gases, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. But with snow I can see their traces in the dirty little particulate company they keep.
    Along with the soot are goopy mud, salt, de-icing chemicals and dog, cat, fox, possum, raccoon, deer and bird poo.
    Come the melt, and what happens? Where earth and grass and rain gardens suck it up, it percolates into groundwater. Without filtration, it goes downhill straight to the Chesapeake, traveling fast on the paved expressway.
    On the open road, my mess combines with your mess to make a really big mess.
    As you say good riddance to the snow, it might be a good time to think in terms of what stormwater remediation fees are remediating.
    Twenty-first century messes, I’m sorry to say, are made by you and me right here in Chesapeake Country.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com