CBF Op-Ed Argues Stormwater Runoff Not Just An Urban Problem

A Howard County Time op-ed (2016-09-14) by Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Executive Director Alison Prost argued that Howard County and other areas of the state still have much work to do to address stormwater runoff. Prost based her argument on tests conducted by CBF and Hood College in Frederick. From the op-ed:

People may think waste in our water is only a problem occasionally when sewer lines break in heavy storms, such as the leak that occurred after the July 30 floods, or a problem isolated to big cities such as Baltimore. Not so. CBF tested six Howard streams and rivers after rain storms of as little as a half inch or rain. CBF also tested several times during dry conditions.

The results were troubling. Most sites had unsafe readings even during dry weather, but those readings spiked after ordinary summer storms. Readings at the Cascade Falls swimming hole in Patapsco Valley State Park were up to 300 times above safety limits after a one-inch storm on July 5. …

CBF also conducted tests in four other Maryland counties, and in Baltimore City. Additional sites also were tested in Virginia and Pennsylvania. A map of the Howard and other sites can be found at http://www.cbf.org.

What does all this mean? It means Howard County continues to have a problem with polluted runoff.

Prost praised Howard County for undertaking the challenging work of upgrading its stormwater maintenance systems and keeping it stormwater remediation fee as a funding mechanism. Prost stressed that the upgrades would be a long-term effort but will yield long-term benefits.

The risks of flooding also will decrease around the county as this [stormwater]work is completed, a major benefit in addition to water quality improvements.

These sorts of upgrades to the county’s drainage system take years to undertake, and residents should be patient. But the tests this summer underscore the urgent need for the work.