County al­lots $4.5 mil­lion to dredg­ing of Bird River

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com

At the scenic Mid­dle River home of res­i­dents Janet and Pete Terry, Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive and Coun­cil­woman Cathy Bevins (D6) an­nounced a $4.5 mil­lion dredg­ing project to ben­e­fit Bird River and Rail­road Creek.

Kamenetz ex­plained that the ini­tia­tive will sup­port re­cre­ational boat­ing while im­prov­ing nav­i­ga­tion and safety along the county’s wa­ter­fronts.

The project is ex­pected to re­move 50,000 cu­bic yards

of ma­te­ri­als cov­er­ing more than 25,000 lin­ear feet along the chan­nel.

The up­per ridges of Bird River were cho­sen for the dredg­ing af­ter re­search showed that Bird River had be­come silted in from sed­i­men­ta­tion of the river, re­sult­ing in re­duced chan­nel depth.

“It makes it chal­leng­ing for people to ac­tu­ally get their boats out or even back to shore,” said Kamenetz.

Par­tial fund­ing of the multi-mil­lion-dol­lar plan will be pro­vided through grants by the Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Wa­ter­way Im­prove­ment Fund. The County will fund 55% of the project cost with the re­main­ing 45% com­ing from the State grants.

“This project is go­ing to take a cou­ple years, it’s not like we can just haul that lit­tle scooper out and some­how get that done,” said Kamenetz.

Vince Gar­dina, the di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and Sus­tain­abil­ity, said these ar­eas were cho­sen be­cause of the phys­i­cal prop­erty and the abun­dance of the sedi- ment that has built up along the shore­line. The sed­i­ment and the sand in the area is loose and fine so the dredged chan­nels col­lapse on each other and build up again. Tides and storms also add on more lay­ers of sed­i­ment and undo any pre­vi­ous dredg­ing.

“You have run off from farms, you have run off from the wa­ter­shed which it­self is very ur­ban­ized,” he said, speak­ing about the wa­ter­shed up­stream from Bird River that in­cludes Perry Hall, White Marsh, and Parkville. The run-off from these de­vel­op­ment-heavy neigh­bor­hoods ends up leak­ing down­ward into the river. He added that once the ac­tual dredg­ing gets started, it will take 2-3 years to com­plete. The dredged ma­te­ri­als will then be taken to an up­stream con­tain­ment fa­cil­ity and land­fill.

“The ef­fects from min­ing, farm­ing, and es­pe­cially de­vel­op­ment, are the largest sources of pol­lu­tion that are en­ter­ing our rivers and our Bay,” said Janet Perry, who had lived on the Bird River wa­ter­front her en­tire life. “In my life­time, this was a river that was vi­brant, that was ski­able, we could take a boat from one end to an­other. In my life­time, now that’s no longer pos­si­ble.”

“One of the cri­te­ria in the past from the DNR has been that we had to sta­bi­lize the run-off from up­stream and we’ve been very suc­cess­ful in do­ing that. It’s been re­duced but not elim­i­nated,” Gar­dina said.

The ef­fects of the wa­ter­shed have been re­duced due to a com­bi­na­tion of stormwater re­me­di­a­tion ef­forts, such as the plant­ing of rain gar­dens and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of rain bar­rels. Gar­dina also said that ev­ery new de­vel­op­ment project has to have some form a sed­i­ment con­trol at their con­struc­tion site.

Perry said that even small, in­di­vid­ual ef­forts like pick­ing up trash and work­ing with your fel­low com­mu­nity mem­bers can make a large-scale im­pact.

“When we all come to­gether and we all do a lit­tle bit, we get a lot of ac­com­plished,” she said.

The plan will be­gin with sev­eral com­mu­nity out­reach ini­tia­tives. In the up­com­ing year, Bal­ti­more County Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and Sus­tain­abil­ity (EPS) will con­duct a meet­ing to dis­cuss the project. At that time wa­ter­front prop­erty own­ers may elect to have a spur chan­nel dredged from the County’s main chan­nel to their in­di­vid­ual pier or boat ramp at their own ex­pense. EPS said they will pro­vide as­sis­tance with spur de­sign, per­mit­ting and con­struc­tion. Res­i­dents who are in­ter­ested will be of­fered 10-year in­ter­est-free loans in qual­i­fied.

At the an­nounce­ment were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from sev­eral com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions, like the Es­sexMid­dle River Civic Coun­cil and the Bird River and Back Restora­tion Com­mit­tees. Perry said this shows how all the af­fected com­mu­ni­ties are work­ing to­gether to bet­ter their wa­ter­front.

Kamenetz said that Bevins had been ask­ing him to explore the dredg­ing is­sues for years.

“The health­ier this river is, the health­ier that Gun­pow­der’s go­ing to be, which leads all the way to the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay,” said Bevins.

Coun­cil­woman Cathy Bevins, Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz, and Pete Terry.

Kamenetz dis­cusses the dredg­ing project with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from sev­eral com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tions.

Janet Perry dis­cusses grow­ing up along the Bird River shore­lines and how the sed­i­ment build-up has af­fected res­i­dents.

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