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Solutions discussed to help reduce storm water pollution

Danielle Ryan

(1/31) At the end of last year, the Emmitsburg Town Council was briefed on the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS-4) permit issued by the State of Maryland for municipalities to protect and improve water quality in their local streams. The permit is intended to reduce and eliminate storm water pollution into the Chesapeake Bay. The MS-4 permit creates guidelines for the municipalities involved but requires ongoing, continued reporting and documentation by towns and municipalities in order to remain in compliance with the permit.

The MS-4 permit operates as a point-based system. The first phase of the program includes the documentation of activities implemented by the town that fall into the following categories: Public Education and Outreach, Public Involvement and Participation, Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination, Construction Site Storm Water Runoff Control, Post Construction Management, Pollution and Good Housekeeping. Municipalities earn points by implementing programs and activities that comply with the preceding list.

Last year, the town received points for activities such as: selling compost bins, having a Green Team, completing the Emmitsburg Comprehensive Plan, and offering free literature to residents on storm water management, just to name a few. In the future, the town plans on having Town staff take Maryland Department of the Environment's Responsible Personnel Certification, collaborating with Frederick County on construction management practices, providing a summary of storm water pond maintenance, documenting good housekeeping practices, and verifying a pollution prevention plan.

In the next phase of the program, the Town will need to undertake projects to reduce the amount of impervious area in the town, and/or reduce the amount of storm water runoff. The Town may need to hire engineers in this phase of compliance to help determine and assess the proper avenues to reduce storm water pollution. In the meantime, the town can conduct projects such as planting trees, providing inspection training for staff, conducting ordinance changes to allow alternative types of paving materials, and inspecting storm water ponds and storm water inlets. As activities are planned, there will be a need for volunteers in the community.

For now, a tree planting initiative is in the works and further information and dates will be provided as they are announced. Planting trees can help reduce the amount of storm water pollution, the erosion of streams, and improve the water quality in local streams. The town will be asking for volunteers on this project in the future, so those who may be interested should keep an eye out for volunteer postings.

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