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Baltimore County News

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Keyword: environment

By Steve Walsh, Director, Baltimore County Department of Public Works

Keeping safe and healthy means fighting for clean air and water and serving as good stewards of our land. With 200 miles of waterfront and 2,000 miles of streams and tributaries in Baltimore County, we consider protection of the environment a sacred trust.

When you are a diverse county of more than 831,000 people in a region of over 2.8 million residents, the balance between thoughtful development and preserving environmental resources is one of the major responsibilities of government. We take this responsibility very seriously in Baltimore County.

It’s not just a local issue. Across the country, infrastructure that was built in the 1950s is strained. Water and sewer pipes that were installed decades ago are literally bursting at the seams, increasing the number of water main breaks and waste overflows.

To put the scale of the issue into local perspective, there are 3,160 miles of sewer lines plus 2,139 miles of water lines in Baltimore County alone. Sixty percent of the County's water and sewer pipes are more than 50 years old, which is the average life span of a water and sewer pipe. More than half of all the County's pipes were installed before 1970, with the greatest percentage installed in the 1950s.

We could sit and wait for a major environmental disaster. But, Baltimore County is moving forward, modernizing our crumbling infrastructure with an historic $1.6 billion investment in water and sewer system upgrades.

“These ongoing improvements must be made to protect our citizens, now and for the next generation. As a responsible government, we must bite the bullet now and not kick the can down the road," said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.     

In 2005, Baltimore County entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment to address these pressing needs. Baltimore County has invested over a billion dollars in water and sewer infrastructure, inspecting hundreds of miles of pipe, rebuilding pumping stations, replacing old lines and monitoring the system. Traditional overflow points have been sealed. Replacement lines have been built to accommodate increased capacity. Sanitary overflows are turning the corner with reductions in annual incidents. All of the County’s major pumping stations have been rebuilt and modernized. The County is on schedule to meet its consent decree obligations and is in good standing.

The County implements a rigorous preventive schedule for inspecting, cleaning and monitoring our entire water and sewer system. When a new development is proposed, we carefully evaluate our capacity to be sure we do not overload the system.  

Every community should expect - and deserves - clean water and safe sewer systems. Infrastructure is a shared benefit. Responsible stewardship of our environmental resources is a shared responsibility.  

by Kara Eppel, Baltimore County Office of Communications Intern

When you throw away your trash or put out recycling, do you ever think about where your leftovers go?

I had the chance to see for myself – and I can tell you, it was a real eye-opener. I toured the Baltimore County Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at the County’s Central Acceptance Facility in Cockeysville, one of three facilities where Baltimore County residents’ trash and recycling goes after we place it outside for curbside pickup.

On one side of the facility, I saw recycling machines working to sort materials that are sold and then made into new products. At the facility’s transfer station, I saw massive mounds of colorful trash piled high, inside and outside the building. While it did not seem as if this area could contain any more, I watched as truck after truck entered the facility dumping even more trash. Looking around me, I could not image simply burying all of this trash at a landfill, especially since so much of this material could have easily been set out for recycling – and ended up on the other side of the facility. 

While the trash goes straight into the landfill, the recycled material gets cleaned, sorted and baled at the plant. In the facility, huge sorting machines line the wall, suspend from the ceiling, and lie on the ground. Recycling is thrown onto the giant conveyer belt and is dragged through the loud, clunky machines. You can hear the grinding of the materials, the cranking of the wheels, and the churning of the belts. The recycling is sorted and baled and sold for reuse.

Recycling helps the environment and also benefits taxpayers when recycled material is sold. Not only does recycling create an income stream for the county, it saves the county money from reduced disposal costs. 

Unfortunately, not every County resident recycles. They are throwing money into the trash. 

As the daughter of a taxpayer who wants to save money and a concerned resident who wants the environment to remain safe for future generations, I urge more of our citizens to use the recycling resources our county provides. 

Two bins do the trick -- one for trash, one for items that can be recycled. Paper, glass, metal and plastic can all be put in one for recycling. Check your trash and recycling pick up schedules online.   

While this seems like a small act, you are making a huge impact on your county and your environment.

For more information on what can be recycled and how to dispose of residential trash, call 410-887-2000 or check out the recycling and waste prevention information on the County’s website. 

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz today issued the following statement regarding the Maryland Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision to award offshore wind renewable energy credits to two projects to be built off Maryland’s coast:

“The PSC’s decision creates a tremendous opportunity for Maryland to become a national leader in a new American industry. With the nation's first large-scale offshore wind projects, we will be able to protect our environment and support renewable energy solutions — all while we grow our economy.

“I commend the PSC for promoting environmentally sound policies that require port modernization at Tradepoint Atlantic and open the opportunity for a new steel fabrication plant at Sparrows Point. Baltimore County has unique assets here that can meet the needs of global manufacturers that support this 21st century industry.  

“Together we can transform our county and our state into the East Coast hub for offshore wind manufacturing and logistics.”

Revised September 26, 2016