The Baltimore area's degraded streams, suffering from urban and suburban development, may get some help from the federal government.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved $480,000 yesterday for a yearlong study of how to restore the metropolitan area's waterways, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.-3rd, announced.
If the Senate and President Bush go along, the Army Corps of Engineers would seek ways of countering damage done to Baltimore-area streams by decades of housing and commercial development and by dams and culverts installed in the past to control flooding.
The waterways to be studied include the Gwynns Falls, the Jones Falls, Herring Run and the Patapsco, Back, Middle and Gunpowder rivers. They drain the entire area, including Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.
The study would look at restoring water quality, which has been degraded largely by urban and suburban storm water runoff. It also would consider ways of bringing back fish and wildlife by re-creating natural stream banks and wetlands, many of which have been bulldozed.
Once the problems have been identified, the Corps of Engineers would do a feasibility study of various restoration measures, said Dr. James Johnson, chief of planning for the corps' Baltimore district office. Local and state government would be expected to share in the costs.
Barbara Taylor, director of Maryland Save Our Streams, welcomed the House action. The environmental group works to restore some of Baltimore's most troubled streams, such as the Jones Falls and the Gwynns Falls.
"Right off the top of my head, I can think of dozens of areas" where streams have been hurt by being dammed or forced into concrete-walled channels, she said.