Wade-in Finds River Little Improved
By Raymond McCaffrey and Susan Kinzie
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 17, 2004; Page SM02
Former state senator C. Bernard "Bernie" Fowler said his annual Patuxent River wade-in at Broomes Island on Sunday determined that the water quality was "just about what it was last year."
Fowler waded into the river with a collection of federal, state and local officials, including Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D), Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D) and Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).
Each year Fowler records the depth of the water at the point where he can no longer see his white sneakers while standing in the river. The measurement, Fowler said, was 31.5 inches. Last year the sneakers disappeared at 24.5 inches, but in Fowler's view there wasn't much of a noticeable difference -- and that's not good.
"I don't feel so good about the quality of the river," he said in an interview. The culprit for the disappointing water quality: overdevelopment.
"Growth is horrendous," he said. Fowler has said that in the 1950s, he could walk into the Patuxent and see "12 feet of transparent water." But Fowler said this week that efforts to improve sewage treatment plants have helped "build my hope back" that the river will improve.
Getting the public and government officials to think about improving water quality in the river is the goal of the wade-in.
"The whole purpose there is that we continue to focus attention on the river and don't go asleep at the switch," he said.
Fowler's spirits also were boosted Monday with a major planting of oysters at a new sanctuary in the Patuxent River. That effort is part of a $2.7 million program to restore the habitat damaged when oil leaked from a cracked pipeline at the former Pepco power plant in Aquasco at Chalk Point and fouled the river in April 2000.
St. Mary's Juneteenth
St. Mary's County will host its first Juneteenth celebration Saturday in Freedom Park.
June 19 marks the day the last slaves, in the far reaches of the Confederacy, received word that they had been freed. A Union army leader rode into Texas in 1865 with a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed two years earlier, but still unknown in some parts of the country. By then, the Civil War was over, and President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. But word spread slowly, especially in sparsely populated areas.
Since then, African Americans have celebrated the day of freedom, in Texas and in a growing number of communities across the nation.
The celebration from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Lexington Park, at Tulagi Place and Route 235, is sponsored by the Unified Committee for African American Contributions and the St. Mary's County Department of Economic and Community Development. There will be gospel singers, barbecue and strawberry soda, Buffalo Soldiers reenactments, storytellers, speeches, and games for children.
A Juneteenth celebration also is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Accokeek at the National Colonial Farm -- families should bring meat to grill on the barbecue pit.
River Concert Series
The sixth season of the River Concert Series continues tomorrow with the second Friday night concert of the year.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company