A storm water pond at an Annapolis construction site overflowed Friday, dumping mucky yellow-brown water into Weems Creek.
Anne Arundel County officials said they had no idea how much silt-laden water cascaded from the Windgate development into the fragile waterway before the builder could correct the problem.
Officials believe workers for the Elm Street Development Co. of McLean, Va., closed a valve between the 6,515-cubic-foot pond and a filter that traps sediment but allows clean water to flow into Weems Creek. Early Friday morning, a storm dropped 1.25 inches of rain in the area, and the pond overflowed.
County inspectors making a routine stop Friday at the townhouse and apartment condominium complex on Bestgate Road between Admiral Drive and Lawrence Avenue discovered the problem, said Lisa Ritter, spokeswoman for the county's land use office.
The developer was called to the site and problems were corrected Friday afternoon, she said. County officials warned project manager Karen McJunkin to expect civil citations and violation notices.
Elm Street is developing the four-phase Windgate project for Windgate Partnership Limited Corp. This is the first phase of a project that will have 166 townhouses and 185 garden condominiums upon completion in 1997, Ms. McJunkin said.
Ms. McJunkin said she will meet with county officials this week to discuss the drainage system. "We are very upset that this happened," she said.
Visibly angered members of the Weems Creek Conservancy were taking photographs of the creek in Friday's misty drizzle.
"It's just terrible. The sediment, the yellowness, was extreme. But you can go to another creek in the same area, and it's not like that," said Elizabeth McWethy, conservancy president. Weems Creek has long had problems from development.
In 1989, residents sued the state, complaining that mud was cascading into Weems Creek from Route 50 construction. While they did not win the restoration they sought, their lawsuit resulted in more stringent controls for water runoff.
In 1993, the storm water management pond at the Annapolis Mall failed, obliterating Cowhide Branch, a tributary of Weems Creek. County planners are reviewing storm water regulations to see if they adequately protect sensitive areas.
The Weems Creek Conservancy, at its meeting today, will take up that issue, Ms. McWethy said. "You don't take back these creeks too easily," she said.