Roadside trash and litter is carried by rainfall runoff through the storm drain system into local streams and eventually into the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. Most local streams in the County flow into either the Potomac or the Anacostia River (the Anacostia flows into the Potomac River also). Trash in our streams and rivers is unsightly and unhealthy. We are pursuing an aggressive policy to control trash in our streams, because we believe it is sound fiscal and public health policy to prevent trash from polluting our primary source of drinking water - the Potomac River.
Montgomery County is a signatory to the regional Potomac River Watershed Trash Treaty (PDF, 8 pp, 801K). We are coordinating our litter/trash reduction efforts across the region through the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash-Free Potomac Watershed Initiative.
The county’s commitment to a Trash-free Potomac River by 2013 is written into the County’s legally binding stormwater permit.
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Montgomery County Bag Tax Legislation, March 2011
Montgomery County passed legislation (Bill 8-11) on May 3, 2011, that places a five-cent charge on each paper or plastic carryout bag provided by retail establishments in the County to customers at the point of sale, pickup or delivery. Retailers may retain 1 cent of each 5 cents for the bags they sell a customer.
This legislation was modeled closely on Washington DC’s Bag Law which has proved successful in reducing bags in circulation by about 50 percent, (as reported by retailers) and therefore reducing opportunities for litter in the city’s streams.
Montgomery County’s legislation, similarly, is designed to create an incentive for the public to reduce use of disposable bags and bring reusable bags. The legislation is an important tool in the County’s strategy to meet requirements of the County’s MS4 stormwater permit, such as the litter pollution budget (TMDL) set for the Anacostia River and the commitment to a Trash Free Potomac River.
The revenues from this charge would be deposited into the County’s Water Quality Protection Charge (WQPC) fund. The revenues would effectively shift the burden of litter clean up costs from public taxpayers, to consumers who have a choice to avoid the 5-cent tax by bringing reusable bags.
Supporting Press Materials
Signed Bill 8-11: Bag Tax Law, Effective January 1, 2012 (PDF, 284 KB)
Powerpoint on the carryout bag legislation (PDF, 2.3 MB)
Factsheet on the carryout bag legislation (PDF, 28 KB)
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Trashy Sites Needing Clean-Up
Join us in cleaning up trash along roads, trails and in local streams, to help us meet our goal of a Trash-free Potomac River. We have identified sites along roads, creeks, and trails that have unfortunately been marred by litter and trash. Check out a Google map of the County’s trashy hotspots:
Support the regional Annual Potomac Clean Up Day sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation! Please register your group of clean up volunteers, and clean up one of the sites we have identified!
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