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.
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.
New partners in county stream improvement
For The Frederick News-Post | Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 2:00 am
John Smucker recently partnered with the Potomac Conservancy as part of a project to remove a fish barrier, an outmoded dam and control bank erosion in Tuscarora Creek. He planted 55 native hardwood trees along with cocoa matts. Brook Hill United Methodist Church helped complete the field and leg work.
Ray Locke, coordinator of the Friends of Frederick County Clean Streams Initiative, is seeking to use similar techniques to improve the health of other streams in Frederick County. Frederick County has 20 different watersheds of which 11 are in poor condition. He is looking for groups to Adopt-A-Grid and install erosion stabilizers to improve water quality. Read the full story.
Email: friends@friendsoffrederickcounty or firstname.lastname@example.org to adopt a grid.
A June 7, 2013 email note from Richard Klein, Community and Environmental Defense Services
An October, 2011 Audit of the Severn River watershed revealed that hundreds of stormwater ponds and other practices had failed due to a lack of maintenance. The Audit then uncovered the cause – a 2001 decision by Anne Arundel County to severely cut-back stormwater staff from seven inspectors to one!
As a result of diminished inspections little maintenance has been performed and stormwater benefits steadily declined. In the Severn River watershed alone the stormwater failures have allowed 25,000 pounds of nutrients to needlessly enter the waterway each year. In fact, funding stormwater inspection programs is THE most cost-effective use of public dollars to minimize stormwater pollution releases into our waterways.
Since the 2011 Audit was released it has served to greatly expand public awareness of the importance of clean water law enforcement. Nothing illustrates this better than the recent announcement that the County will quadruple their stormwater inspection staff.
Watershed Audit Quickest, Cheapest Way To Improve Water Quality
Through the CEDS Watershed Audit all existing activities are evaluated for compliance with Clean Water laws. Due to many years of underfunded enforcement budgets, large volumes of pollution are entering our waterways from sources no longer in compliance with these laws. A typical watershed is about 70 square miles in size and can be audited by a few volunteers or staff in no more than a week. The Audit procedures are easy to learn and cost very little. For further detail on Watershed Audits visitceds.org/audit. To see if a compliance problem exists in your watershed call 1-800-773-4571 or simply reply to this message to schedule a no-cost initial Audit
811 Crystal Palace Court
Owings Mills, MD 21117
“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.”
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 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.
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.
|Marylanders support bay cleanup
Originally published February 20, 2013
|Recent letters have commented about efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Stephen Seawright, past president of the Frederick County Building Industry Association, pointed out that an 80 percent majority of our current elected county commissioners are disinclined to support these local efforts. But he failed to account for the 70 percent of Marylanders who support bay efforts.Every one of us, regardless of domicile or occupation, has bay impacts and needs to be part of the changing practices to alleviate bay pollution. But the voices we often hear now are those with a complaint about a single regulation that affects their personal business or lifestyle.
Mr. Seawright suggests that because some efforts are lower cost per projected improvement impact, that we simply buy more of that mitigation while ignoring the ones that his industry needs to integrate into their development process. This is sophistic logic.
Bay pollution is costly and problematic, and efforts are spread across a wide spectrum of practices and public actions. Because of its nature, there is no single source or cause, no magic wand to health.
The problem is not simply solved by planting all trees and ignoring the variety of other causes, including the impervious surfaces that Mr. Seawright objects to mitigating. No matter how much of Frederick County we covered in streamside forest buffers, the water runoff from impervious surfaces, in velocity and heat and carrying an array of pollutants such as oil and chemicals and fertilizers, would impair the stream water quality, erode stream banks, and ultimately still diminish the Chesapeake Bay.
The 70 percent of Marylanders for bay cleanup know that as we spend to improve agricultural practices, change builder practices for impervious surfaces, and plant riparian trees, and the variety of other directives toward bay cleanup goals, it is ultimately all of us who really end up paying the difference. And we agree that clean water, for drinking, supporting the farmers of the bay, and sport and recreational uses, not to mention our obligation to our children and grandchildren’s future, is worth the effort.
I call upon our Board of County Commissioners, homebuilders, our farmers, and ultimately our individual lifestyle choices, to make every effort possible to sustain our environmental qualities.