Clear­ing Up

County or­ga­ni­za­tions cel­e­brate wa­ter qual­ity im­prove­ment

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— As the usual boaters and beach­go­ers trick­led into Elk Neck State Park on Satur­day af­ter­noon, most were prob­a­bly not thinking about the qual-

ELK NECK

ity of the wa­ter they were about to go swim­ming in.

But in the park­ing lot next to the beach area was a group of peo­ple who spend a lot of time do­ing just that. They had gath­ered at the park for the sev­enth an­nual Ce­cil County Wade-In, an event that brings to­gether peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions from all over the county to mea­sure wa­ter qual­ity with the “sneaker in­dex.”

This mea­sure­ment tool

was cre­ated by for­mer Maryland State Sen. Bernie Fowler, who mea­sured wa­ter qual­ity by see­ing how far he could wade in be­fore los­ing sight of his sneak­ers, said Sean McCand­less, a stormwa­ter in­spec­tor with the county De­part­ment of Public Works.

“That’s why we’re here to­day. We’re go­ing to get in touch with our Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, the mouth of the North­east River,” he told the crowd. “We’re go­ing to wade in.”

This year’s wade-in found a sneaker in­dex of 27.5 inches, an inch and a half im­prove­ment over last year’s mea­sure­ment of 26 inches.

But those weren’t the only num­bers be­ing shared at the event. Scott Flani­gan, the county’s di­rec­tor of public works, an­nounced that the Maryland De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources has awarded the county a $900,000 grant from the Ch­e­sa­peake and At­lantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund to con­struct stormwa­ter man­age­ment projects at North East and Per­ryville high schools.

At North East High School, the projects will in­clude bio-re­ten­tion basins and stream restora­tion. The Per­ryville projects will also in­clude bio-re­ten­tion basins as well as con­vert­ing an ex­ist­ing stormwa­ter pond to a wet­land, Flani­gan said.

Many peo­ple crit­i­cize the state for it’s stormwa­ter re­quire­ments, but Flani­gan said he’s glad to see the state step up and sup­port coun­ties try­ing to ful­fill those re­quire­ments.

“To me, this is an ex­am­ple Kids help put out a seine net dur­ing the Ce­cil County Wade-In.

where the state of Maryland is putting its money where its mouth is, so to speak, and help­ing the county with meet­ing its stormwa­ter re­quire­ments,” he said.

Flani­gan also con­grat­u­lated Ce­cil Land Trust for re­ceiv­ing a DNR grant that it will put to­ward a pub­licpri­vate part­ner­ship with

Ecosys­tem In­vest­ment Part­ners to re­store more than 1.5 miles of de­graded streams and cre­ate 20 acres of ri­par­ian buf­fer in the Prin­ci­pio Creek wa­ter­shed.

The projects at the high schools as well as the one at Prin­ci­pio Creek will also help with wade-in’s goal of ed­u­cat­ing the public about county wa­ter­sheds and stormwa­ter man­age­ment. Prior to the wade-in, many lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions set up in­for­ma­tion ta­bles in the park­ing lot were peo­ple could learn about wa­ter­sheds and stormwa­ter man­age­ment.

Acous­tic gui­tar player Don Shap­pelle also played mu­sic for the crowd lead­ing up to the wade-in.

The con­tin­ued public ed­u­ca­tion about stormwa­ter as well as the slowly im­prov­ing wa­ter qual­ity are good signs for long­time river watch­ers such as Chuck Fos­ter, pres­i­dent of the Friends of the Bo­hemia. Fos­ter’s par­ents bought a “1-acre slice of heaven” on the Bo­hemia River when he was a child that sparked his love of that river, he said.

He re­called those days of crys­tal clear wa­ter, aquatic veg­e­ta­tion and plenty of fish and crabs, a state of health he hopes the river will some­day achieve again. But though the wa­ter qual­ity has changed since he was a child, Fowler’s pas­sion for the river hasn’t.

“I’m here be­cause, prob­a­bly like you, I love that wa­ter,” he told the crowd. “I love it.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IANNETTA

Vol­un­teers keep an eye on their shoes as they wade into the North­east River at the sev­enth an­nual Ce­cil County Wade-In.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IANNETTA

Di­rec­tor of Public Works Scott Flani­gan an­nounced that Ce­cil County had re­ceived a $900,000 grant for stormwa­ter man­age­ment dur­ing the wade-in.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JES­SICA IANNETTA

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