Chesapeake Bay Watershed

A recent article published by the Baltimore Sun, announced the Chesapeake Bay had received a “C” for water quality.  That is the Bay’s highest score in over 20 years.  Unfortunately, the part of the watershed in Baltimore County did not score as well, Patapsco and Back River both scored a D-minus.

IMG_0192

There are many groups in Baltimore County working towards improving water quality not only for waterways in Baltimore County, but for the Chesapeake Bay as well.  One of those groups the Back River Restoration Committee has undertaken massive efforts to clean up parts of Back River, a quick visit to their FB page will show the many project they have undertaken to improve their part of the watershed.

P1060439

Many have heard the stories of when Captain John Smith first sailed the Bay the water was so full of sea life, his crew could not disembark to swim.  While we are far from seeing that abundance of sea life the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore has made it a goal to make the Inner Harbor swimmable by 2020.  While the Waterfront Partnership is based in Baltimore City, the waterways of Baltimore County feed into the Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.

DSCF1011

Improving the quality of the watershed cannot be left to community action groups and environmentalist, alone.  If everyone were to change a few daily habits, we would make positive improvements to the health of the Chesapeake, one of our national treasures.

Here are a few ways to improve the water quality in Baltimore County and the Chesapeake Bay.

  1. When washing your car, buy an environmentally friendly soap. Remember everything that goes down the storm drain goes directly into a local waterway without being processed or filtered.
  2. Take your trash with you. When you are out and about and have just finished that delicious breakfast sandwich or sweet piece of candy put the wrapper in your pocket and discard it when you find a trash can, not on the ground.
  3. Keep your butts. It should be no surprised that smoking is bad for your health and it is bad for the health of the watershed as well, keep your cigarette butts and throw them away when you get home, not on the ground.
  4. Paper, plastic, neither? Do you have a drawer full of plastic bags from grocery shopping?  Those take “forever” to decompose in a landfill (around 10-20 years).  Reusable bags have become pretty inexpensive and you can use them anywhere for any purpose, consider buying a few and skipping the “one-time” bag at the grocery store.
  5. May I have my shells to go? A great way to support oyster populations in the Bay (a very important filter-feeder), is to recycle your oyster shells. Take empty oyster shells to an Oyster Recovery Partnership recycling station. Find one near you.

OYSTERS 2

These are just a few ways we can work together to improve the Chesapeake Bay Watershed for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

Tell us know some of your favorite environmentally friendly tips!

BBC Poll

graph-background

We would like to hear what you think about the issue.

Here is an article if you need some background before casting your vote.

Addressing Illegal Dumping

DSCN2875

Perhaps you’ve seen an old sofa or a used mattress along some of the rail lines or alley ways in and around Baltimore County.  Maybe a thoughtless individual dumped large trash items along our public parks or highways.  Regardless of the circumstance, they are unsightly, unseemly and negatively impact the quality of life for a community.

Bulk trash can be a troublesome issue and is addressed in different ways in the Baltimore region.  One approach deals with the imposition of penalties for illegally dumping trash on roads and alleys.  In April of 2015, Baltimore County increased its minimum fine to $500 and allowed for the imposition of a jail sentence of up to six months for those found guilty of dumping.

Man Carrying Garbage

Baltimore City likewise has fines in place for illegal dumping, $500 for amounts under 25 pounds and $1,000 for amounts in excess of 25 pounds.  The City, however, has another fairly aggressive program in place to address bulk trash. While there are exclusions for automobile parts, building materials and hazardous waste, city residents are still able to coordinate a pick-up of up to three large items, or four if they are all tires.  Baltimore conducts approximately 600 pickups a day and generally only requires 4 business days of notice in order to schedule.  Bulk trash is one of many services coordinated through Baltimore’s 311 program.

The best part? For residents of the city, it is an absolutely free service.

SCRAPYARD

The options when it comes to bulk trash items for Baltimore County residents are considerably more limited.  These include either personally taking bulk items to one of the county’s three drop-off facilities­­ or hiring a private, bulk item collector.  While the drop-off facilities do not charge a fee for Baltimore County residents to bring their items, for many residents the process can be daunting: many do not have the appropriate transportation options to haul bulk items, while others (such as our senior citizens) may not have the physical ability to move heavy and cumbersome objects around. The alternative of paying for pick-up is hardly a more appealing option and can end up costing several hundreds of dollars.

LANDFILL 1

While it might not solve all of the challenges associated with illegal dumping throughout Baltimore County, it might be worthwhile to consider finding a way to implement a low or no cost bulk pickup option similar to what is provided currently to our City counterparts.  In addition to being a useful service for county residents, it certainly makes it even easier to justify penalties for dumping. It could prove another useful tool in curbing some of the dumping challenges currently out there.

MONITORED