Its that time of year that our office has come to love. Time to submit our annual report to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) for the County’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. Yes, it’s a mouthful but its how DEP works to protect and improve our water quality. So what’s gone on this past year (July 1 2019-June 30 2020)?
This year’s report was officially submitted on February 15th, 2021 and highlights a year of challenges but also a year of adaption and perseverance. DEP spent several months creating an amazing interactive mapping tool for residents to learn more about our work and several maps that illustrate area suitability for stormwater management and/or stream restoration work. Additionally, DEP created an Equity Assessment map for use in comparing project suitability and equitability when selecting future watershed restoration work. Check them out!
In an unprecedented time and facing limitations from Covid19, DEP continued to work with various agencies, partners and volunteers to:
Aside from these feats, DEP coordinated the removal of 16,429 pounds of trash from the Anacostia River alone and awarded a grant for the installation of Montgomery County’s first ever trash trap in the Anacostia Watershed along Lockridge drive.
DEP inspected over 9,000 stormwater BMPs resulting in 5,198 receiving preventive maintenance.
Having limited face to face interactions as of March 12th 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, DEP adapted their outreach efforts utilizing Zoom and other platforms for education and outreach. This resulted in significant increases in digital and social media presence including a 24% increase in YouTube subscribers and a 364% increase in Instagram engagement. We even did our first ever Facebook Live events for Earth Month and Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week.
DEP also discovered the need to educate the public on properly disposing of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves. Two videos were created in English and Spanish after observing several PPE during trash cleanup activities.
The RainScapes program saw a significant boost totaling 1,477 volunteer projects installed by residents since the program’s inception.
With an increased emphasis on reducing winter salt use, DEP created a new residential Salt-Wise campaign and, while unrelated, also experienced a vast reduction in the use of deicing materials on roads due to warmer weather. A 19% decrease in tons of material collected through the street sweeping program also occurred this year. All good signs.
These are just a few of the program highlights DEP has accomplished during this very unusual year but while strange, 2020 has not slowed us down. We have rolled with the punches and look forward to serving the residents of Montgomery County to the best of our ability. We will be receiving a new MS4 permit from MDE with new challenges in the coming months and will be ready to hit the ground running. For more information and highlights view our latest annual report.