More than a decade after the health department closed Marley Creek'scontaminated waters to swimming and water-skiing, state and county officials have announced plans to track the pollution to its source.
The state Board of Public Works approved $62,500 Wednesday to map out plans to halt the flow of pollutants into the North County creek. The state is splitting the cost of the $125,000, nine-month survey with Anne Arundel County.
"I'm glad for the support, I wish it had come sooner," said Lola Hand, a Marley Creek activist and resident of the Suburbia neighborhood. "Now, let's get going with it and move ahead."
Marley Creek suffers many of the same symptoms of chronic urban storm water runoff as other county creeks: discolored water, foul, sulfur odors and silt-clogged boating channels. Runoff can carry pollutants -- everything from pet waste to pesticides -- from rooftops, lawns, streets and parking lots.
Meo Curtis, an environmental planner with the county, said the study, set to begin this fall, is a prerequisite to dredging contaminated sediments from a channel at the center of the creek. Before the Army Corps of Engineers approves a dredging permit, it requires steps be taken to prevent new sediments from re-filling the channel, she said.
"If we control the sediments, obviously we'll control some of the pollutants flowing into the creek," Curtis said. The study will be similar to a 1988 investigation on Rock Creek.
That study has prompted officials to install experimental aerators near the headwaters to pump into the water oxygen desperately needed by aquatic life.
The Board of Public Works, which consists of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein and Treasurer Lucille Mauer, also approved last week the final $187,500 needed to begin a $1.4 million dredge in October.
"We'll be able to carry over the experience of Rock Creek to Marley Creek," Curtis said. "We expect to have do some storm water (control) retrofit."
Marley is much larger -- 7,700 acres to Rock Creek's 2,500 acres. Therefore, aerators may not work as well there, Curtis said. With recurring odors on Rock Creek this summer, aerators proved to be less effective there than officials hoped, she said.
Margaret Brown, president of the Marley Area Improvement Association, said Marley Creek's woes began more than 25 years ago with construction of Harundale Mall and Route 10, long before authorities required developers to install storm-water controls.
Although the Health Department posts signs warning against swimmingin the creek, Lola Hand said she frequently sees children and adultsin the water.
And, she constantly hears about skin rashes and infections as a result.
"What do these kids know about water pollution?" Hand said. "They don't know any better. That's why I've been concerned about getting it cleaned up."