Severn Run stream bed to get cleanup Civic associations join to remove trash from flood-causing segment

November 01, 1996|By Jennifer Langston | Jennifer Langston,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Frustrated that his farm in Severn flooded after each heavy rain, Joe Malecki went looking for the reason last summer. He found it in the Severn Run stream bed. A mass of silt, rotting sofas, rusting refrigerators and bald tires blocked the stream.

"It's not even a stream anymore," Malecki said. "It's more like a flood plain."

Malecki went to county land-use officials and County Councilman Bert Rice, who represents his district. They got in touch with Maryland Save Our Streams, which has recruited several local civic associations for a cleanup of the worst section of the stream tomorrow.

Officials at Save Our Streams expect 80 to 100 people to pull the trash from a section of stream from Reece Road to Malecki's farm at Jacobs Road and Pioneer Drive.

Community effort

Among the sponsors of the event are the Schultz Farm community, Seven Oaks Community Association and People on the Move, a neighborhood organization based in Orchard at Severn.

The county will provide bins for trash and bulk items that come out of the stream, and "No Dumping" signs that children can stencil on bridges and culverts over the half-mile stretch.

Severn Run rises in The Provinces and flows through Warfield, Orchard at Severn, Still Meadows and Malecki's farm on its way to the Severn River.

County officials said they hope the cleanup will make a lasting impression on residents and local apartment managers.

"Once the stream is cleaned up, the hard part is keeping it clean. And that is incumbent upon everybody," Rice said.

As well as cleaning up trash, volunteers demonstrate to people why they shouldn't put it in streams in the first place, said Kim Lane, deputy director of Save Our Streams.

"If the county just sent workers in and cleaned it up, the problem would probably continue and probably get worse over time," she said.

Even though Anne Arundel County picks up bulk trash along its routes free, many people do not take advantage of the service, Lane said.

"Streams are common resting places for large bulk items," she said. "It's common everywhere we do cleanups."


Furniture and appliances can cause streams to change their course and block passages for fish swimming upstream to spawn.

Refrigerators and other items can release toxic chemicals, damaging wildlife habitat, Lane said.

Malecki, 29, whose family has farmed the land adjacent to Severn Run since the 1800s, grew up hunting and fishing there.

He remembers catching freshwater eels, sunfish, pike and perch that would spawn in the Severn Run.

Now, construction of housing developments along the stream has dumped so much sediment into it that the fish are largely gone, Lane said.

Picking his way among the poplar trees on the stream's banks, Malecki points to mounds made by resilient chimney crawfish as well as sofas that have been there so long they look like part of the landscape.

"It takes someone who's lived in the area and who grew up here to really know what's happening back here," said Malecki, who ** plans to place bird and duck houses along the stream banks after the trash is removed. "I'm going to be watching."

Volunteers sought

Save Our Streams is asking for volunteers who live near access points to the Severn Run to serve as neighborhood watchdogs for illegal dumping.

Rice hopes the cleanup will help people take ownership of their environment. "People can say, 'I helped do that.' It's environmentally sensible, and it makes people feel good about themselves."

Information or to volunteer for Save Our Streams: (410) 969-0084.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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