With a hill washed bare of greenery behind him and a pond thick with silt at his feet, Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening announced a battle against soil erosion yesterday that would, he said, prove the county's commitment to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.
Foxhill Lake in Bowie, where Glendening spoke yesterday, is far from the Chesapeake but its water, like the rest of the streams in the county, drains into the bay. With the help of a $87,000 state grant next year, Glendening promised to turn the pond, estimated to measure about three acres, into a model for water quality projects in the county, and at the same time announced several other projects to clean up the county's waterways.
Glendening said the state also has promised the county $150,000 for a similar pond improvement next year at the Washington Business Park in Lanham, and $378,000 to staff an already-approved $30 million Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission program to improve storm drainage in the county during the next six years.
Glendening announced a new 24-hour hotline (dial 735-SOIL) to allow people to report violations of the county's soil and erosion control laws. "We need all the eyes we can get," he said.
These laws, allowing the county to stop construction if soil runoff is not controlled at the building sites, have been in effect since the late 1970s but were not energetically enforced, county officials said. "It wasn't deemed an important matter," said Michael Pawlukiewicz, chief of water quality with the county's year-old Department of Environmental Resources.
Pawlukiewicz said the new erosion control efforts were spurred largely by state threats to take over the job of supervising erosion control -- a threat made good in several counties including Montgomery -- if local jurisdictions failed to take action. And the number of soil inspectors have been increased from two to eight in three years, he said, making the laws easier to enforce.
Glendening, a member of the state's Critical Areas Commission that made erosion and sediment control an important part of its recommendations last month for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, said he wanted to make the county a leader in sediment control.
"Our commitment to cleaning up pollution and restoring and preserving the Chesapeake Bay is thorough," Glendening said. "We will be doing everything in our power to correct problems that originate in Prince George's County."
Currently, the pond is not only thick with schools of goldfish, but also with brown slimy silt and sediment washed from nearby land. Steep bare slopes rise from the southern shore of the pond, and county environmental officials say they want to plant the slope so that the soil will be held in place by the vegetation roots. , andAn "interceptor pond" also will be built upstream to allow soil to settle out of the water before it begins its journey to the Chesapeake, county officials said. About two feet of silt and sediment will be dredged from Foxhill Lake next year.END NOTES
The pond drains into Collington Branch. The narrow Collington Branch flows south to Upper Marlboro where it joins the Western Branch, which feeds into the Patuxent River a few miles downstream. The Patuxent feeds into the Chesapeake Bay between Calvert and St. Mary's County.