Towns working on MS4 permitting elements with varying success
— Cecil County towns with populations above 1,000 are in the process of complying with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, better known as an MS4 permit.
Part of the process is to establish six minimum control measures, which include public education, outreach, involvement and participation. Everett “Pete” Reich, a member of the Perryville Board of Commissioners, said it’s been a challenge to get the public connected.
“Since we got this MS4 permit, I’ve been obsessed with getting people connected to town hall,” Reich said.
Perryville has a website and social media presence, but Reich is ramping that up with an online signup where residents can tell town hall what information to share with them.
However, Reich the participation he
said had hoped for has not come. He believes it is because people do not want their personal information to become public.
“It used to be if you gave the town information, anyone could come and get that information,” Reich said.
However, a measure passed by the Maryland General Assembly has ended that possibility.
“The town must deny access to it even under the Freedom of Information Act,” Reich said.
Reich said it is important that town hall have a way to reach as many residents as possible in the event of an urgent or emergency event. However, it can also be a way to share the everyday news as well as special events.
“We have that sign by Lindy’s (Market) and at town hall, but not everyone sees that,” he said, adding that consequently residents are missing out on events such as Lower Ferry Festival and Tap Into the Tavern. “I had a lot of people say, ‘I wish I’d known about that.’”
Ken Natale, director of finance and administration for the town of North East, said the town has not gotten that far in its MS4 process yet. He said they have not defined their public outreach element.
“We do know the hotline has to be 24/7,” he said.
For now, North East is waiting on results of a commissioned study that will give them direction.
Meanwhile, Reich hopes that word of the change in access will encourage Perryville residents to go online and register. Go to www.perryvillemd. org. On the left side of the home page, click on E-alerts and there you will find the signup page. Fill in your email address and then click on the boxes for the town information you wish to receive such as agendas, meeting minutes and town news.
“I know not everyone has email or internet,” Reich said. “But I know people who do and perhaps they can pass any information on to their neighbors.”
Perryville will sign its letter of intent to comply with the regulations by the end of this month.