2020 didn’t slow down the Watershed Restoration team  

March 5, 2021
  |   4 Comments

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) permitYes, 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)?  

Image of mapping tool available on DEP website.

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!   

Highlights by the numbers:  

In an unprecedented time and facing limitations from Covid19, DEP continued to work with various agencies, partners and volunteers to: 

  • Install 15 large capital improvement projects  
  • Implement 301 volunteer best management practices (BMPs) 
  • Plant 2,800 trees 
  • Develop 90 projects beyond the MS4 permit goal of treating stormwater from 3,778 impervious acres.   

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.  

ThRainScapes 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. 



4 comments on "2020 didn’t slow down the Watershed Restoration team  "

  1. Anne Ambler says:

    Unless Googlemaps is mistaken, the Lockridge Drive trash trap mentioned will protect the Northwest Branch, not Rock Creek, from trash. We of Neighbors of the NW Branch are looking forward to that trap! I would greatly appreciate it if you would let me know when it has been installed.

    1. Ana Arriaza says:

      Anne, thank you for the comment. We will correct that.

  2. Joel Teitelbaum says:

    I commend Mygreenmontgomery and DEP for ongoing actions to prevent and sequester (in groundwater) heavy overflows of Stormwater in various watersheds of Montgomery County, including in my community of Greater Lyttonsville’s suburban small-scale neighborhoods where stormwater runs free down hilly streets to flood low-lying portions of East-West Highway. My concern is that DEP listing its project each year aimed at reducing pollution of Chesapeake Bay misses out on DEP’s multi-pronged stormwater/pollutants management purpose. Trying to protecting our streams, rivers, and Chesapeake Bay are important and laudable. But, most residents feel essential value or lack of it from DEP’s stormwater management activities mainly within their upstream (relatively speaking) neighborhoods and home-sites most of all. That is where DEP programs are least successful thus far. Other than admonitions by Mygreenmontgomery On-Line, neighborhoods see little evidence of on-the-ground outreach public education or focus on areas with excessive stormwater surface drainage. Sustainable Maryland has a cookie-cutter program for neighborhood ‘Stormwater Teams’ that needs substantial improvement and timely outputs.
    It may be that DEP lacks sufficient staff and resources to perform on-site activities, and/or needs a more pro-active outreach concept and neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach. Analogously, look at minimal success to date in fostering a localized culture of individual mask-wearing and ‘distancing’ in public places to protect all of us from spread of COVID-19 infection. Why? Because most individuals think first of how it annoys or affects themselves and immediate loved ones, instead of less-urgent infection impacts on wider circles of people and society. DEP needs to focus squarely on individuals protecting their own homes, yards, from excess stormwater overflows and water-logging that damages/hurts appearance of home gardens and lawns, or excessive mosquitoes/biting insects. DEP can achieve both large-scale downstream and local neighborhood objectives of improving Stormwater management if its leadership and staff coordinate/work directly with Montgomery Parks to leverage Parks stormwater engineering projects as educational tools for adjacent neighborhoods/others. Parkland stormwater overflows often drain into/onto adjacent residential homes and neighborhoods and street-side stormwater sewers. DEP can each out to residents surrounding Parks and Green infra-structures to educate and directly assist them with stormwater/debris control techniques/practices – by minimizing drainage from impermeable surfaces across adjacent tiered private properties and paved streets that often bypass badly-placed or blocked curbside stormwater drains flooding major roadways downhill, etc.
    Until on-site stormwater/debris pollution is controlled locally in tandem with stormwater engineering and public exhortation, Annual reports written by DEP to MDE will just sit on MDE shelves rather than create a ‘living presence’ in our communities.

    Joel Teitelbaum, long-term Resident

    1. Ana Arriaza says:

      Joe, thank you for the feedback.

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