Construction causing soil to flow into a stream? what to do!

Here are some resources to help you:

- A YouTube video of a workshop presented a month or so ago by Richard Klein of Community & Environmental Defense Services about the big six watershed pollution sources (construction, storm water, new development, pasture, cropland, point sources) and how citizen organizations can tackle them:
- Potomac Riverkeeper’s Get the Dirt Out project:
- To report sediment control problems in Frederick County (Rick Masser): 301 600 3507
Jefferson Tech Park ground breaking

Jefferson Tech Park ground breaking

Keep your eye open to the Jefferson Tech Park construction.  The workers are in close proximity to a stream flowing through the property.  Read more about the development:  - The Frederick Gorilla Magazine article by Katherine Heerbrandt on the boondoggle that is the development of the Jefferson Tech Park:

9/5/13 LTE: Environmental Good Stewardship

Environmental good citizenship

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 2:00 am

While Farrell Keough makes some good points on environmental decision-making authority in his Aug. 19 letter to the editor, I would add that the general public can also contribute to making our environment cleaner and healthier.

Recently I learned about a Friends of Frederick County project that engages citizens to take a look at streams and their condition (where visible, from public roads); if there is a problem with the stream such as trash, an erosive hillside, farming up to the stream bank or cows in the creek, the individual snaps a photo and sends it in.  Read the rest.

Register NOW to adopt a grid – 4 hours/year of volunteer time ONLY


It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s relaxing and only requires 4 hours of your time each year.  Moreover the help you give IS SO VERY IMPORTANT to collective efforts of many people and organizations working to help clean up our waters in Frederick County.

There is cause for concern about our streams’ health in Frederick County.  You can help change that.  Please start now.

Read more.  REGISTER NOW!

Thank you.

June seminars about: Green Practices for Property Management

Green Practices for Property Management Seminar Series…Read more here!

CBF backs “rain tax”

In a Frederick NEws Post letter to the editor the Chesapeake Bay Foundation supports the rain tax…


Bay Foundation backs ‘rain tax’

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013 2:00 am

More pollution goes into Frederick County creeks and rivers than into the waters of any other county in Maryland, according to Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) data. About 20 percent of that comes from storm water — a swill of dog feces, lawn fertilizer, oil and gasoline residue and water that flashes off streets and parking lots when it rains.

This type of pollution is the only source of water pollution increasing in the region, especially in growing counties such as Frederick. Farmers, sewage plants and other sources are discharging less pollution than years past.

Frederick understands the value of investing in streets, water filtration plants and sewage plants. But some county officials don’t seem to want to invest in another county utility: the system of ponds, pipes and culverts that drains its landscape. As a result the antiquated system gets more expensive to upgrade each year, like a leaking roof we refuse to patch.

Contrary to a recent News-Post editorial there are no storm water “plants” that treat polluted runoff as there are plants to treat sewage. The polluted runoff mostly goes into a storm drain and straight into local creeks.

How polluted is Frederick County? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and MDE have declared most of the waters of the county officially “impaired,” including the Monocacy River, Double Pipe Creek and Catoctin Creek. Residents are cautioned not to come into contact with the water for a full 48 hours after a summer thunderstorm. How’s that work for convincing businesses to relocate to Frederick County?

This isn’t a new problem. But there is a new urgency to fix it. In fact, soon Frederick and other Maryland counties will receive new storm water permits under the federal Clean Water Act that require them to do a better job.

How to pay for it? About 1,300 jurisdictions around the country have approved some form of “storm water utility fee,” determining such fees to be the fairest and most efficient way to address this problem.

Despite popular rhetoric, these fees aren’t “rain taxes” but a fair assessment on polluters (you and me) that pays for a service the county provides. It’s fixing our parking lots, streets, driveways and other surfaces that turn rain into toxic soup.

The benefits would be substantial. In Anne Arundel County where county commissioners have approved a storm water fee, for example, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center estimates that for every $100 million the county invests in improvements, the county will gain $220 million in economic benefits and almost 800 jobs.

By state law, Frederick can decide how much of a utility fee it wants to raise from each resident and business to begin to meet its responsibilities. Unfortunately, Frederick County Commissioners have decided their constituents can live with dirty water. They have said they will collect only 1 cent from each resident for the job. That ploy might make for a fine protest, but Frederick County will get what it pays for — likely continued unhealthy water and flooded basements. And an ever larger bill to be paid by the children and grandchildren of the county.

Alison Prost

is Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

New report that looks at penalties for pollution: are they enough to deter industry?

No Profit in Pollution: a comparison of key Chesapeake Bay state water pollution penalty policies


“Industries that discharge water pollution are required to abide by clean water laws and regulations that limit how much they can pollute the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams, and other bodies of water. If they exceed their limits or, fail to implement appropriate methods for controlling their pollution, they violate the law. Such violations should trigger appropriate economic sanctions to deter all regulated entities from committing future violations.  All too often, however, polluters may weigh decisions about whether and how much to pollute from a dollars-and-cents perspective only, comparing the costs of compliance with the penalties to which they may be subject for exceeding applicable discharge limits.”



Shad restoration in the Potomac River: an economic resource and ecological experiment

Restoration of the American Shad in the Potomac River

Mr. James Cummins, Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin

(This text is a summary of Mr. Cummin’s presentation at Hood College Symposium, March 7, 2013)

The American Shad is the world’s largest herring.  It spends most of its life along the Atlantic coastline, ranging from Florida to Canada, but returns to freshwater rivers to spawn.  Its life cycle can be a 12,000 mile journey.   Shad are not only an esteemed food for humans, they are important in the ecosystem because they are food for so many different species, like the Bald Eagle and Bottlenose Dolphin.  Shad are historically important to our country and sustained many economies.  Tens of millions of shad were once harvested each spring in the Potomac alone.   They were typically smoked and salted in barrels.   They were in huge demand were transported  long distances inland.   They were the number one item in terms of dollar value transported upstream on the C&O canal. Unfortunately, through overfishing, pollution and loss of spawning habitat primarily by dams, their populations plummeted and the fishery was closed in the Potomac in 1982.

An American shad restoration program began in 1995, managed by the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, which worked with local watermen and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.   Spawning shad are netted and their eggs collected, fertilized, taken to a hatchery and then stocked in the Potomac when they are small fry.   A dam in the Potomac River at Little Falls, near Washington, D.C., blocked their upstream migration.    In 2000 a new fish way was installed which is basically a notch in the dam with three weirs to reduce flow and allow fish to pass.    Shad stocking also became a local school project with over 50 schools now involved in hatching shad in their classrooms.    After they hatch, students go to the river to release their fry.   This has worked well for schools because they are helping restore the shad and the quick development of the fish is easy and fun for the students to observe.

The exciting news is the restoration has been successful, the American shad population of the Potomac has rebounded and in 2012 was declared a sustainable fishery once again.   Sadly though, the Potomac is the only river along the entire east coast that has improved to such an extent.   Fortunately, the Potomac now serves as the egg source for shad restoration in other rivers including the Rappahannock River in Virginia, all shad restoration rivers in Maryland, and the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers in Pennsylvania.    Hopefully, all of the rivers in the east coast will once again run silver with shad.

Urban forestry – an important component to protecting the Chesapeake Bay

Urban Forestry: An Increasingly Critical Component of the Landscape

Mr. Michael Galvin, SavATree

(This text is a summary of Mr. Galvin’s presentation at Hood College Symposium, March 7, 2013)

Current decisions are being made at a local, land parcel level.  When only one person cuts down a tree, this doesn’t make a huge difference.  However, when everyone does, it greatly impacts the environment.  When literature was published showing that the Chesapeake Bay was in serious trouble during the 1970s and 1980s, people didn’t want to put together any regulatory actions.  When goals were not being met for the health of the bay, this area implemented a series of laws that have made the area highly regulated and a model for other states in similar circumstances.  Baltimore is the site of an Urban Long Term Ecological Research project.  These began in Phoenix and Baltimore as a result of their commissioning by the National Science Foundation.  They were commissioned because for the first time in history we have more people living in cities than in rural environments.  In urban areas the water table functions differently and the hydrology is altered.  Water in urban environments becomes more of a nuisance rather than a resource (think Carroll Creek Park).  Also, urban environments are almost entirely impervious cover in most cases.  This decreases stream health.  By adopting a program for the Bay’s health, riparian forest buffer have been implemented and continue to expand.  Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) have been used for jurisdictional plans for meeting watershed health guidelines.  These have helped to see the improvement that we do with the current health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  In Washington, D.C., urban tree canopy have been used significantly to improve air pollution levels.  This strategy has been incorporated into the WIPs of 5 of the 7 bay states.  We continue to experiment with strategies to improve the life of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and urban forestry has been instrumental in this process.

Will climate change impact the Potomac watershed?

Future Climate Change in the Potomac Watershed

Bart Merrick, NOAA Chesapeake Bay

(This text is a summary of Mr. Merrick’s presentation at Hood College Symposium, March 7, 2013)

Mr. Merrick outlined the models and factors that have contributed to the conclusion that climate scientists have come to: there is a warming climate trend.  These factors such as the levels of certain elements in the atmosphere have been followed for a very long time.  We are even able to ascertain some of them from ice cores, allowing us to determine these things well before there were knowledgeable scientists walking the earth.  These changes in the climate will affect all of our lives to the most personal levels such as, where you want to live and work.  Using the Global Climate Model (GCM), he explained that this splits the land, ocean and atmosphere into three-dimensional boxes.  First, we have to fully understand the way in which the processes on Earth work, and then we can transfer that into math with equations.  These are then coded and put into the model to give us a visual representation of the way in which the energy is moving on earth.  While they are many other kinds of models used for similar purposes, each has its own strengths and weaknesses.  However, as a whole all of these models are showing us that there is a warming trend happening.

To use these models effectively on a smaller scale we have to downscale them.  This relates what we see in the global model down to a local climate.  There are a couple of different ways to do that including dynamic downscaling, using the output of the global models to create a local one. This brings us to the models that we use for the Chesapeake Bay.  These include the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Model, the Chesapeake Inundation Predictions System and the Chesapeake Bay Forecasting System.  The Watershed Model shows the impact of climate on water quality.  The Inundation Prediction System shows the affects on sea level and the Forecasting System pinpoints vital characteristics and how they are affected.

All of these models do have some error.  Aside from variability, they operate under certain greenhouse gas levels, if those aren’t what exists in the atmosphere, what we see here will not be what the models will have shown us. The question is, what can we expect in the future? Depending on how severe the scenario, we could end up with water temperatures closer to those in North Carolina or even Florida.  Our normal distribution of weather patterns will move towards greater variability and a warmer trend.  This means more hot days and record-breaking temperatures too.   We will be seeing more extreme weather in general, especially in our natural disasters.  Storms that were considered once every one hundred years will be coming every sixty.  Greater precipitation will occur in the winter but not so much change for the summer months.  In essence, we could be up against a variety of things, we don’t have an exact answer.  However, this is the purpose of models, to show us a range of what we could be up against in the next ten years.


Watch the youtube: Plan for the Valleys, Baltimore County, receives national planning award