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Baltimore County Now - News You Can Use

Baltimore County Now

Stay informed of what's happening in Baltimore County.
Keyword: department of public works

photo of woman shovelling snowJim Lathe
Chief of Highways

If you’re up at dawn to shovel your driveway on those deep-snow days, you’re not alone. And if, after you’ve shoveled the snow, you break out in a cold rage because a plow came along and pushed it all back where you started, you’re not alone either.

Snow happens.  And a little frustration is only natural – especially since you expect the County’s snow plow drivers to work with you, not against you. After all, they can see that you’ve just shoveled, can’t they?

The truth is, blocking driveways with mountains of snow and re-covering sidewalks you‘ve just shoveled has been a problem for plow drivers from time immemorial. As a driver for nine years, I know your problem and I’m sympathetic. But there’s simply no other way to “git ‘er done” except by plowing all the snow and ice to the curb. It’s better to push the snow onto a cleared driveway than to leave it in the road and it’s the only way to get the job done efficiently.

Your best bet is to shovel snow to the right side so that the plow pushes it away from your property. And, of course, never shovel snow into the street. The Department of Public Works asks that residents give snow plow drivers time to do their job before clearing driveways and walkways completely.

Remember, snow is everybody’s problem and everybody’s responsibility too. In Baltimore County we understand that homeowners have to do a lot of work to dig out of a heavy snow. And we, in turn, hope that residents understand that it takes a full twenty-four hours to clear a six-inch snowfall. So, please be patient; we’re all in this together!


Cease the Grease logo imageChris Korpman, Engineer III
Baltimore County Public Works

There is FOG in the sewers –but it’s not that misty stuff that fills the air.  The term “F.O.G.” stands for fats, oils and grease. Originating in our kitchens, it clogs sanitary sewer systems across Baltimore County and is a harmful threat to the environment. When poured or washed down the drain, FOG builds up on pipe walls, restricting the flow of wastewater exiting our home’s plumbing.

Over time, FOG leads to blockages that result in overflows into our homes or onto our streets, down storm drains, and into local waterways, all posing a serious risk to public health. 

The 10 most common sources of FOG are:

  • Shortening
  • Cooking Oil
  • Fat trimmings
  • Sauces
  • Margarine
  • Butter and Lard
  • Baking Goods
  • Dairy Products
  • Meats
  • Food Scraps

Put Fats, oil and grease where they belong…

Never pour F.O.G. into your sink or toilet. Rather, dispose of F.O.G. into a small can, storing in the freezer until full. When it’s full, throw it into the trash.

When there is F.O.G. residue in a pan or on a dish, wipe it with a paper towel before washing and throw the towel in the trash.

Place a strainer in the kitchen sink drain to catch food scraps and other solids, then empty the strainer into the trash.

Please keep this in mind during your holidays and remember, "Cease the Grease."


photo of wine colored leavesClyde Trombetti,
Public Information Specialist
Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management

For the next few weeks we’re right in the thick of it when it comes to leaf collection. Each year from the beginning of April to the middle of December, Baltimore County provides a special yard materials recycling collection, once every two weeks, to 70 percent (165,000) of the County’s individual and townhomes. Materials such as grass, leaves, and small brush are collected and taken to the Eastern Sanitary Landfill Solid Waste Management Facility (ESL) in White Marsh for composting. The goal of this program is to reduce the amount of organic matter that is being landfilled. In 2013 approximately 11,000 tons of yard materials from the County’s Yard Materials Recycling Collection Program were processed into compost.

County residents may also take yard materials and brush and branches to two of the County’s drop-off facilities for recycling. More than 17,200 tons of these items were taken to ESL and approximately 4,100 tons were taken to the Central Acceptance Facility (CAF) in 2013.

What happens to the grass, leaves and brush?

The items dropped off at CAF are processed into compost and mulch by Hollins Organic Products, Inc. The yard materials from the County’s Yard Materials Recycling Collection Program and the yard materials and brush and branches taken to ESL by residents are processed into compost and mulch by the County at ESL.

Large tree branches and tree trunks are run through a large piece of equipment called a tub grinder to make mulch. The smaller material (grass, leaves, and small brush) is piled in long rows called windrows. Another large piece of equipment, appropriately named a windrow turner, moves over the rows using rotating blades to break down, mix and aerate the material. This process of “turning” helps to create the proper conditions for efficient composting (“nature’s recycling program”) of the material. Depending on the weather and other factors, the material will generally stay in these rows roughly 90 days. This material is then run through a trommel screen to remove large and unwanted debris. The compost is then piled up, where it continues to “cure” until it is ready for use.

Compost is decomposed organic material (humus) that helps to enrich and condition the soil. Mulch is “shredded” wood that is used around plants, bushes, and trees as ground cover, and helps to protect root systems from the cold.

Free compost and mulch for residents

Baltimore County residents may pick up compost and mulch, free of charge, from ESL (6259 Days Cove Road, White Marsh, MD 21162). Before going to ESL, call the Solid Waste Management customer service number (410-887-2000) to check on the availability of compost and mulch. Residents will need to bring and fill their own containers.

DIY is best bet

Collecting and processing yard materials is a big and expensive task, so residents are encouraged to “lend a hand” and handle their yard materials at home, through methods such as grasscycling, leafcycling and home composting. For more information about these easy to do methods, check out www.baltimorecountymd.gov/publicworks/recycling.


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