Renewal of stream boosted by EPA Agency, Exxon Valdez settlement directs $12,000 to Longwell Run

March 24, 1997|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill eight years ago in Alaska have trickled into the Westminster area to help protect local waters.

A drop of the Exxon Corp.'s settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency will pay for new trees and shrubs along a local stream, Longwell Run, that flows by the Carroll County Office Building.

The $12,000 award was announced last week by Maryland Democratic Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski.

Carroll County is in the third year of a five-year project to restore sections of the stream, with most of the work near the County Office Building, said James E. Slater Jr., chief of the county's Bureau of Environmental Services.

Longwell Run is "badly eroded," he said, but construction will begin soon for storm-water management, a small dam and restoration of the wetlands, stream bed and natural meanders.

"This award helps us accomplish this," Slater said, "for planting of trees and stream buffers."

Longwell Run originates near Manchester Road and Route 140. The shallow stream flows in and out of Westminster: past a small strip shopping center and Koons Toyota on Route 140; northwest by the County Office Building and East Middle School; to the Route 140 overpass at Route 27, then northeast to Bennett Cerf Park -- where it empties into the West Branch of the Patapsco River and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay.

In Alaska in 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on a reef and leaked more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound. It was the nation's worst oil spill.

The EPA's $12,000 award to the Carroll County project comes from an environmental restoration fund of about $4 million that was established in a settlement with Exxon Corp. The money is administered through the Bay- Scapes program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and will be used to plant native vegetation in unused lawn areas. This reduces storm-water run-off, which helps to preserve stream beds and water quality.

The EPA received more than 200 proposals and chose three projects in Maryland, said Jesse L. Jacobs, spokesman for Sarbanes. The other two projects are a $150,000 award for the Northwest Branch in the Anacostia River watershed in Montgomery County, and a $15,000 award for the Little Paint Branch tributary at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Prince George's County.

"These funds allow us to take an environmental lemon and turn it into lemonade. The Exxon Valdez oil spill was an environmental disaster of epic proportions," Mikulski said in a statement.

"But I am pleased that we will be able to use funds from the settlement to protect the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers and streams that flow into it," she said.

Pub Date: 3/24/97

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