More than a dozen Carroll countians have decided to work RTC together to improve the quality of the unnamed stream that runs along Westminster's Railroad Avenue.
They are assuming the job that Monroe Haines, the stream's self-appointed guardian, started years ago. This fall, Mr. Haines announced he was relinquishing his responsibilities and expressed the hope that someone else would pick up the challenge.
The newly formed stream task force -- composed of Westminster and Carroll County officials, business people and educators -- has had one meeting and outlined an impressive plan of action. The group's goals are appropriate for the stream. They recognize that this urban stream -- which has storm drains rather than springs as headwaters -- will never be pristine. However, the task force is committed to cleaning up the runoff into the stream, reducing erosion and sedimentation and insuring compliance with state and local water quality ordinances.
Some of the tasks facing the group include developing a storm water management plan. Depending on the amount of money that can be raised through donations and grants, the group hopes to create some buffer planting for the stream and its tributaries, to stabilize the stream's walls, to create new wetlands and to build storm water containment ponds.
Education is going to play an important role in the group's efforts. Businesses along the stream will be informed on what steps they can take to reduce their runoff or insure that it doesn't contain contaminants that will pollute the stream. Students from West Middle School and Westminster and Francis Scott Key high schools will be involved in the project through projects such as painting storm drains and producing news articles and videos.
Members of the task force expect some of the work to start this spring. Catherine Rappe, chief of the county's Water Resource Management Bureau and head of the stream task force, believes that if the group is successful, it could serve as a model for other efforts to improve the water quality of urban streams.
At a time when government resources are strained, this cooperative and voluntary community effort should be encouraged and applauded.