County aid might be sought to keep Columbia lake clear

McCarty, Robey tour site, discuss need for long-term sediment-control strategy

November 10, 1999|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

Seeking outside help to preserve Lake Kittamaqundi, Columbia officials gave Howard County Executive James N. Robey a lakeside lesson yesterday in flood plains and sediment build-up.

Columbia Association President Deborah O. McCarty led Robey on a 60-minute tour of the 27-acre Town Center lake that the Rouse Co. built more than 30 years ago and that remains a symbol of the community's suburban aesthetic.

At issue is the build-up of sediment -- a natural process that has been exacerbated by the lake's position in a flood plain next to the Little Patuxent River.

The association, the homeowners group that provides services and programs for Columbia residents, is making plans to dredge the lake. But it wants the county to take steps to prevent, or at least minimize, the river's overflow, which would decrease future need for dredging. The association has made no formal request for county funds, and has not said how much it hopes the county would provide. "We're obviously talking about an expensive solution," Robey said. "We need to talk some more about possibilities: what the county should do, what help we should seek from the state and the federal government, if it's available.

"I see it as the county's responsibility to partner with anyone we can to maintain certain amenities, certain qualities."

How the association plans to remove the sediment from Lake Kittamaqundi -- and the cost -- is unclear. If the sediment isn't removed, the lake eventually will look like a marsh, association officials say.

But just dredging the lake -- rather than addressing the larger problem of river overflow and erosion -- isn't enough, said Chick Rhodehamel, the association's director of open-space management. That would be a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

"The issues of the river extend beyond any authority we have," said Rhodehamel, who stopped at several locations around the lake to point out particularly troublesome spots.

Also accompanying Robey on the tour, which began on the lake's south side near association headquarters, were James Irvin, the county's public works director, and Joseph Merke, the Columbia Council chairman who represents Town Center.

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