Volunteers Sought For Second Annual Greater Baltimore Mud Pollution Control Survey

By Krista Schlyer, iLCPPoorly managed erosion control on construction sites like the one above result in stormwater pollution that could have been prevented. Photo © Krista Schlyer/iLCP

Did you know that one poorly managed construction site, with exposed soil and runoff, can send so much mud pollution into a local creek or stream that it could take decades—or longer—to recover?

In the summer of 2014, 22 local, state, and national groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, participated in the first Greater Baltimore Survey, trained and led by Community & Environmental Defense Services (CEDS). Frankly, we think this is one of the coolest volunteer projects we've seen—and it has been effective in creating immediate change in several local watersheds in the survey area.

Last year, after 33 volunteers surveyed 105 construction sites in Baltimore City and the five surrounding counties, they found that only 23 percent of the sites fully complied with the state law requiring the use of erosion control measures to prevent offsite mud pollution. The best jurisdiction—Harford County—achieved a 37 percent compliance rate and the worst—Carroll County—came in at 12 percent. After reaching out to counties with the data collected, CEDS and local citizens were able to increase the use of these erosion control measures, in some cases very substantially. For example, construction site compliance with erosion control laws increased from five percent to 44 percent a nine-fold improvement in less than a year—in the Bird River watershed! (a shout-out to Bird River Restoration Campaign!)

This year, sites will be surveyed in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties and Baltimore City. Volunteers will be trained by CEDS to use a simple assessment to determine to what degree active construction sites are using required erosion and sediment control measures.

Sites are viewed from a vehicle parked on an adjacent public road—so we are not trespassing or confronting anyone—simply gathering data needed to improve mud pollution control. Volunteers conduct field surveys in groups on one or more half-days in June and July; field days are scheduled based on volunteer availability.

Data from this survey is used to facilitate outreach to counties about the effectiveness of pollution control practices and to improve enforcement and increase use of these practices to reduce polluted runoff to Maryland waterways.

To register for the survey, go to: ceds.org/gbs2015 or send an e-mail to gbs2015@ceds.org.

For further detail visit: ceds.org/esp or download the 2014 Greater Baltimore Survey Report at: ceds.org/esp/ES=PReport.pdf

Another Way to Help: Contribute Sites to the Construction Sites Database

As you travel around the Greater Baltimore region (Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties), keep an eye out for construction sites. Help us add to the survey by noting the name and location of each site, and then adding it to the CEDS database at: ceds.org/sites.

Sites can be anywhere but are usually concentrated along major roads. Sites also tend to concentrate in a given area, so check out Google Earth and other aerial photos to see where sites were a year or two ago. You may well find new sites in those areas.

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