The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has received six 2021 National Association of Counties (NACo) achievement awards for its innovative programs in the areas of County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy, and Sustainability; Civic Education and Public Information; and Information Technology.
Since 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards have recognized county government innovations, and are given in 18 different categories that reflect the comprehensive services counties provide, including financial management, county administration, information technology, health, and civic engagement.
“Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection’s receiving six NACo Achievement Awards is a testament to the innovative, creative, and engaging programs and policies they are creating and implementing,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Our County’s achievements in combatting climate change are among the most aggressive and progressive throughout the nation. I am very pleased and thankful that the DEP is being recognized as a national leader in sustainability.”
DEP Director Adam Ortiz said his department is continuing to implement innovative programs that are aligned with helping the County toward reaching its environmental goals.
“The NACo awards program recognizes progressive county government initiatives that strengthen services for residents,” said DEP Director Ortiz. “We are very proud of our DEP staff who continued to innovate and serve our Montgomery County residents and businesses throughout this most difficult year.”
According to a County press release:
DEP was recognized for the following programs:
- Watershed Restoration Suitability Model/Mapping Tool and Equity Assessment Mapping Tool: The Stream Restoration Suitability, Stormwater Management Suitability and Equity Assessment maps geographically target watershed restoration projects where they would have maximum impact by addressing a broad combination of programmatic goals. The DEP created a dedicated web page to explain the purpose of the maps, how the maps were developed, how to use the maps, including a link to the web mapping application.
- ESD Public Maintenance Program: Public Maintenance Program maintains existing stormwater Best Management Practices on public property and in the Rights of Way throughout the County that include vegetative bioretention and raingardens. The practices help slow stormwater runoff from paved surfaces. The inlets, plants and soils work together to filter out sediment and pollutants before they enter the storm drain system and local waterways.
- Montgomery Energy Connection and Alcohol Beverage Services: Partnership on the LED & Libations Campaign: Montgomery Energy Connection (MEC) is a County program created to provide residents with customized education on energy efficiency, availability of programs and opportunities for assistance. The program, managed by the Department of Environmental Protection, involved partnering with Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) in October 2020 to launch the” LEDs and Libations Campaign.” October is Energy Action Month, and the targeted outreach program was launched to reach residents where they shop. Since ABS locations were one of the few County locations open during the COVID-19 health crisis, the partnership benefitted residents by providing energy efficient (LED) light bulbs at no additional cost. The LEDs and Libations Campaign was launched at all 26 County-owned liquor stores. More than 1,300 LED lightbulbs were distributed to customers purchasing Maryland-made alcohol products to encourage a reduction in energy use while supporting local, Maryland alcohol manufacturers. A 704 percent increase in sales of small Maryland-made products was seen in ABS stores compared to October the previous year. This unique partnership helped educate local residents on energy efficiency in an unlikely place.
- Improving Customer and Staff Experience through Technology Modernizations at the Montgomery County Transfer Station: The technological enhancements at the Transfer Station has increased efficiency to provide better and faster customer service at the point of sales. It has improved the monitoring of safety across the large campus and allowed the County to be proactive in preventing incidents rather than reacting when incidents occur. The fiber backbone, as well as the third-party failover network infrastructure, ensures continuity of operations even in the event of a County network outage. The 30-year-old trash site is now a state-of-the-art technology hub that utilizes modernizations to enhance customer experience, as well as provide preventative safety measures.
- Curbside Recycle Right Program: Montgomery County’s “Recycle Right” campaign improves the quality of recycling by decreasing contamination and increasing recycling by single-family residents, using an effective mix of education, training and enforcement to change behavior, as demonstrated through measurement and data. Montgomery County is responsible for collecting recyclables using a dual-stream recycling system from more than 220,000 single-family homes in the non-municipal portions of the County. Over time, there had been an increase in the level of contamination (materials that are not recyclable) that residents put into their recycling bins. The contaminants (unacceptable items) must be separated from the acceptable recyclable materials at the County’s Recycling Center and then disposed as waste. The issue has required added efforts to address, reducing the Recycling Center’s capacity to process and sort recyclables. It also causes the need for the County to pay for and export materials it is unable to process itself to a private recycling facility for processing. This reduced the amount of high-quality recyclable materials the County markets and sells to manufacturers to use to make new products from the recyclable materials. The Recycle Right initiative includes baseline sorting and multiple measurements of materials collected from single-family households; visual inspections of materials in recycling bins set out for recycling; tagging to flag contaminant items inappropriately placed in recycling bins; education and outreach on proper recycling; and sorting and measurements of results. The Recycle Right initiative dramatically and significantly reduced the contamination of recyclables.
Senior Planet Montgomery Home Edition. DEP was a major year-round contributor to the multi-department NACo award-winning program. Senior Planet Montgomery produces online classes geared to residents 55-and-over on a variety of subjects that can enhance everyday living. Among the DEP-structured classes were ones that explained easy ways to save money by being more energy efficient at home.