NFL stadium would increase Patuxent pollution, storm water expert testifies

August 16, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

A football stadium proposed for Laurel would increase pollution of the adjacent Patuxent River -- not decrease it as the Redskins have claimed, an expert in storm water management testified yesterday.

The project also would increase the severity and frequency of flooding and erosion downstream, said Dale A. Lehman, an expert witness called by Citizens Against the Stadium II (CATS II).

The National Football League Redskins are seeking Anne Arundel County's permission to build a $160 million, 78,600-seat stadium in an industrial zone east of Laurel. Team representatives are trying to show that the stadium would not adversely affect the public health, safety and welfare.

The public hearing on the matter is in its sixth week and is scheduled to end Friday.

Mr. Lehman, an agricultural engineer who has worked on flood management projects, is an active member of CATS II, a citizens group named after an organization that opposed a Redskins stadium in Alexandria, Va. He also served on a Prince George's County task force opposing the stadium.

If the stadium were built, he said, the amount of nitrogen reaching the river would increase by 50 percent to 60 percent. Phosphorus amounts would increase by 40 percent to 50 percent, and metals contamination would increase by about 20 percent.

Those figures directly contradict those of Anthony Janicki, the Redskins' aquatic ecology expert. Mr. Janicki testified July 27 that the stadium's storm water management system would reduce the amount of contaminants reaching the river by as much as 80 percent. The Redskins say their proposed storm water treatment system exceeds the county's requirements.

Redskins lawyer Harry Blumenthal disputed Mr. Lehman's figures, and asked for the computer disks containing his calculations. Mr. Lehman said he will give Mr. Blumenthal the disks this week.

During his testimony, Mr. Lehman said the runoff from the site would double because of the increased amount of paved surface. The Redskins want to be released from county rules that would require them to contain the runoff from two-year and 10-year storms. The team also wants to put parking spaces in the Patuxent River flood plain.

The Redskins' basic problem, Mr. Lehman said, is that the site is not large enough to hold the stadium, the needed parking spaces and the necessary storm water management system. "They have too intensive a use for where this site is located, in proximity to wetlands and the Patuxent River," he said.

But Alan M. Rifkin, spokesman for the Redskins, said it is up to county officials to decide whether larger storm water management facilities are needed. If so, he said, they could be built underground.

Mr. Lehman said underground storm water management facilities are an "absolute last resort."

"They don't get maintained," he said. "They just fail."

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