This past Friday, more than 20 Coalition members visited Carroll County, Maryland, to check out their innovative stormwater projects. The tour was led by Tom Devilbiss, director and hydrogeologist for Carroll County, who gave us a brief run through on the county’s progress. This included learning about the Agricultural Land Preservation Program, where 70,000 acres of land are permanently preserved – with an eventual goal of 100,000. The county brings in $200,000 a year in agriculture, and has seen a dramatic decrease in urban sprawl.
In 2008, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) went up for renewal leading to the hiring of more employees to increase the work being done, as well as an increase in budgeting in capital and operating from a little more than $1.6 million to just over $7.3 million. Since this review, the county has been at work retrofitting existing stormwater facilities to address new requirements. The idea is to capture, treat, and release stormwater runoff. “You can get a lot done on a few dollars” Devilbiss noted, highlighting the thriftiness of his county.
On the tour, we learned about the water filtration systems, water monitoring systems, and geodatabase implemented in Carroll County – all part of working towards being a greener part of Maryland. They boast six retrofit locations that are routinely sampled and checked up on. The county also tries to gain ownership of all residential stormwater ponds to ensure they will receive the best possible monitoring and care. Their geodatabase keeps track of monitoring data, and in 2016 a position was created to allow for one person to focus solely on this database. They also boast a citizen reporting hotline and staff reporting hotline, encouraging community members to care about their rain water.
After the in-office rundown, we packed into vans and went out to explore the local projects in person. The sites we visited were all beautiful examples of stormwater management, including a farm museum with a bioretention cell, a stormwater drainage area at Westminster High School, and the Westminster Community pond, where the grasses around grew a healthy bright green.
Like all of us, Carroll County still has work to do for its future generations – but the tour showed that they are working hard to reduce stormwater pollution with a modest budget and passionate people.
Mary Katherine Sullivan is an intern with Choose Clean Water