Watershed study to be released

Effort aims to improve Gwynns Falls water quality

March 04, 2004|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Baltimore city and county officials will release the preliminary findings of a nine-month study of the Gwynns Falls watershed tonight as part of an unprecedented partnership to improve water quality in streams that feed the Chesapeake Bay.

The report is a detailed account of soil erosion and pollution in a stream system that runs from the Glyndon area of Baltimore County through the west side of the city and into the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River.

David A.C. Carroll, director of the county's Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, said the study will help local governments and private groups to identify the projects that will help most to improve the water flowing into the bay.

"We've got eroding streambeds; we've got a lot of sediment coming from communities and parking lots and that sort of thing. Where do we get the most bang for the buck?" Carroll said.

Scott Pelton, president of the Gwynns Falls Watershed Association, said the study is important because it is the first cooperative effort of its kind between the city and county. It's essential to look at the streams as an entire system and not divide them by political boundaries, he said.

"The problems that affect the county also affect the city because, obviously, it flows downhill," he said. Gwynns Falls is the first watershed to be studied under the agreement between the city and the county.

Carroll said the study also gives the county its first opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of some of the buffer and open space requirements it established in the New Town area of Owings Mills.

"We still have portions of the stream that have trout populations, which is sort of the canary in the cage we use," he said.

The public is invited to attend the unveiling of the report and to comment on it at 6 tonight at the Pikesville library, 1301 Reisterstown Road.

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