SWAP stakeholders meeting set for September 20
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 10:59

Long calls for stormwater management improvements

by Ben Boehl

    For those who care about Dundalk’s waterways, the time to “SWAP” information is here.
    Baltimore County created the Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAP) program to find strategies to bring a small watershed into compliance with water quality standards.  Bear Creek and Old Road Bay had been identified as the Dundalk area watersheds for the program. A  SWAP steering committee has met over the last six months to discuss strategies to improve the local watershed. On Thursday, Sept. 20, a second SWAP stakeholders meeting will be held at the North Point Library from 6:30 to 8 p.m. where information will be presented to the community.

Betty Kelly, of the Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS) for Baltimore County, said  SWAP is a year-long process that studies residential, commercial and industrial properties in each watershed area.
    “We look at all of these with visions, goals and objectives of community members,” Kelly said.
    For the Bear Creek and Old Road Bay study, Russell Donnelly, Fran Flanigan, John Long, Patricia Paul, Larry Bannerman, Amy Menzer and many others are among the residents, business and community leaders on the local steering committee. Many of those same individuals and their groups will have a table with information at the next  SWAP meeting.
    One of the problems in the Dundalk area is that since most communities were built in the 1950s, the storm water management system is the same age and is outdated.
    John Long, president of Clean Bread and Cheese Creek, said that more has to be done to fix the problem. He is upset that the storm water management system has been updated in other areas, yet he was told there is no funding for Dundalk
    “Our biggest problem is the storm water management. Everything we have found [in creek cleanups] is usually trash from a parking lot that has come from overflowing trash cans,” Long said “We updated our storm water management all over the county, but they seem to be lagging behind [in Dundalk].”
    Kelly acknowledges that the storm water system is old and said SWAP will provide alternatives to fix the problem.
    “The current  storm waters management systems are outdated from the [1980s-era regulations], but we are always looking for small water quality changes,” she said.
    Kelly gave an example of how homeowners can redirect downspouts and the plantation of trees to absorb storm water run-off.
    Long agrees that small steps can be taken, but wants to see the county do its part.
    “It has to be a partnership for it to be successful. Everyone has to be committed to have a cleaner watershed,” Long added.
    Some of the ideas presented to the community include continuing to monitor water quality, conducting community cleanups and education.
    “A lot of it is education. Also, if the county could have permanent recycling centers. Since they only come once a week, people have trouble holding on to recyclables. In my area, [recycling pickup] is on Monday. If there is a holiday, you have to wait two weeks, and people don’t want to hold onto recyclables for one week instead of two.”
    Kelly said the county could only do so much and the residents of each watershed area need to make sure the waterways stay clean.
    “We don’t watch over to make sure that people are doing what they need to do. That is for the community association to be responsible for those in the community,” Kelly said.