WESTMINSTER — Monroe G. Haines Sr. is not the kind of guy who takes no for an answer, especially when it comes to "his" stream.
"His" stream, a tributary of the west branch of the Patapsco River, runs along Railroad Avenue in the city. Haines thinks the stream is a mess, and he's been trying for the last five years to get it cleaned up.
"When I was growing up, I used to lay on my belly and drink out of these streams," said Haines, who has spent all of his 69 years in the county. "Back then there was no reason to be afraid to take a drink."
He has been trying to get state and county officials involved in cleaning up the stream, and his persistence may be starting to payoff.
Director James E. Slater, other members of the county Department of Natural Resources Protection and state air-quality technicianCathy Singer spent much of yesterday morning walking along the stream while Haines pointed out trouble spots.
Haines says the stream and the land surrounding it are being polluted by contaminated water runoff from area businesses and illegal waste dumping.
He says he works around the stream "day and night" documenting the pollution withpictures and watching to see if it gets worse.
He says he has been frustrated by a county and state bureaucracy that seems unwilling to clean up the stream.
Slater, who has taken an interest in the stream, said he believes Haines "has some legitimate complaints."
Hesaid the extent and source of the stream's pollution will have to bedetermined through testing. Slater said he "hopes to rally some resources" to obtain money so that testing may be done in the near future.
Singer, of the state Department of the Environment, said she wasconcerned about some large mulch piles that sit close to a fence along the stream.
She said she was worried that when a mulch machine was operated there, particles would become airborne and settle in thecreek.
Singer also took notes on other types of possible pollution in the stream and said she would show them to the appropriate experts in her office.
Haines said he hopes pollutants in the stream will be cleaned up so that he and a crew of volunteers can take away debris that sits in and around it.
"I'm not expecting it to get backto the way it was when I was a boy," he said. "But I ain't going to quit until I get this mess cleaned up or die."
Singer said she wasglad there are concerned citizens like Haines.
"Otherwise, we maynever know this stuff is out here," she said.