Baltimore County Now
Public Input to Enhance Small Watershed Action Plan
Baltimore County EPS invites participation from communities within urban areas of the Lower Gunpowder River watershed at an upcoming public meeting on Tuesday, June 16. The urban portions of the Lower Gunpowder River watershed include parts of Perry Hall, Carney, and Towson neighborhoods.
This is the first of two public meetings regarding the creation of the Lower Gunpowder River Small Watershed Action Plan, or SWAP. The June 16 community meeting will take place at the Perry Hall Middle School Auditorium (4300 Ebenezer Road, Baltimore, MD 21236) from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. It is free and open to the public
This public meeting offers a chance for communities to get involved and learn about the history and project to date, and most importantly, provide suggestions about their vision and priorities for the watershed. The purpose of the SWAP is to collaboratively form a Vision Statement and Goals document and identify goals and objectives to improve natural areas in the watershed. There will be a survey to capture priorities and interactive mapping displays to record areas of concern.
Baltimore County stresses the importance of public participation in creating the Vision Statement for the SWAP. “We’re very excited to see such great public involvement in these projects,” said Director of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, Vince Gardina. “The SWAP process helps build on the philosophy that citizen involvement and feedback is critical when it comes to reaching environmental goals that benefit our communities in a more well-rounded fashion.”
For more information on Baltimore County’s Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs), please visit http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/environment/watersheds/swap.html.
The Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability is responsible for the protection of the environment and the improvement of the quality of life for the citizens of Baltimore County. This is accomplished through programs that manage and enhance natural and man-made resources, and that provide environmental guidelines to constituents.
Background of Small Watershed Action Plans in Maryland:
In the late 1990s, national stormwater permits required major counties in Maryland to reduce pollution from roads and neighborhoods that drain to local streams. Counties began monitoring programs and prepared watershed plans to identify projects and programs that could reduce pollution from these non-point sources. Many projects were completed and reductions tallied in annual reports. Much progress was made, however additional reductions are needed to have clean water that meets water quality standards. To reach these additional reductions, Baltimore County is developing Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) to focus on communities as smaller groups and to identify specific solutions that are tailored to local areas. They are used by Baltimore County in conjunction with citizen groups to implement actions that create and maintain healthy watersheds.
by Vince Gardina
Director of the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability
We all know that the Chesapeake Bay and the many streams and rivers that run to it have been declining for decades, but did you know that Baltimore County has an entire team of scientists and engineers working to help restore the Bay? That's right. Baltimore County's Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability has teams whose sole effort is to evaluate water quality and put in place various practices and construction projects designed to restore water quality by cleaning storm water as it runs off of our houses, buildings, roads and parking lots. The goal is to remove pollutants like nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment from these waters so that they don't end up in the Bay. You see, these pollutants harm the water and by removing oxygen and sunlight causing fish, crabs, oysters and submerged plants to die.
Baltimore County is working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of Environment to address water quality standards required in the Clean Water Act. This federal law requires that certain polluted waterways meet what are known as Total Maximum Daily Loads for these pollutants. Basically, the pollutant concentrations in the designated waterways must be reduced to acceptable levels that do not affect wildlife or humans. The County is planning to meet these pollutant load reductions by putting in place measures called Best Management Practices. These are defined in a planning document prepared by the County and submitted to Maryland Department of Environment. All of these measures to reduce pollutants must be in place by 2025.
What kind of practices and capital projects will help restore the Bay? There are hundreds, but the most effective ones are stream restorations, storm water management facility upgrades, shoreline stabilization, bioretention systems and tree plantings. However, this isn't just a job for us. Every county resident can help these efforts by applying less lawn fertilizer, using rain barrels to catch storm water, planting trees on their property, building a rain garden, keeping grass at least three inches high, and removing a sidewalk or paved area and replacing it with pavers or stone.
For more information on our efforts to keep the Bay clean and safe, go to http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/environment/monitoring/tmdl.html.