Recent commentary by Frederick County Commissioner Paul Smith exposes the simplistic political logic of the current Board of County Commissioners and of the statewide Chesapeake Coalition. At its base, it rejects firm science and portrays the problem as an out-of-state boogeyman to deflect attention from our real-life issues and responsibility for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. The citizens of Frederick County, and of Maryland, deserve better from our local elected leaders. As one dedicated over many years towards the careful practice of environmental stewardship and water quality while respecting history and economics and sustainability, I demand better deliberation, thought and action in these responsibilities from us all.

Our own recent study of the Frederick County streams indicates that their health rates poorly as reflected by the continuing assignment of total maximum daily load requirements by the Maryland Department of the Environment. If you observe the Monocacy River after a rainfall, you’ll see the problem — muddy water, meaning that erosion and sedimentation are strong. In fact, basic biological measures, such as bentic organisms, are mostly lacking because the soil washed into the river and streams are suffocating the bottom.

As agricultural sources improve their practices with no-till and cover crops, the growth of impervious surfaces has increased our runoff, its speed and temperature, and added contaminants from those surfaces to our waterways.

For an organization to poseur its politics by pointing to a nearly hundred-year-old dam technology at Conowingo is at best hyperbole. A quick look at U.S. Geological Survey sediment source maps and research shows that Frederick County is in the upper tier of contributions of sediment to our watersheds, and of greater proportional impact than most of the state of Pennsylvania. And this impact occurs even with the county study showing considerable riparian buffers along 70 percent of its streams! It is partly a result of geology, highly erodible soils and geography just west of the fall line. Only places such as Lancaster County have more extreme impacts on sedimentation.

Commissioner Smith also hopes we’ll not consider the responsibility for mitigating the impacts of 100 year old stormwater technology in place throughout Frederick County. All those expensive water control methods simply move water away or at times hold it awhile, rather than ensure its natural absorption into our groundwater systems.

When he suggests that the bay’s natural systems of cleansing the waters, the submerged vegetation and oyster reefs, are being smothered by sediment from Conowingo Dam, he’s talking about natural systems that comprise at best 20 percent of pristine state for grasses and only 1 percent for oysters. You can’t count on their functions to absorb the impacts of several hundred fold increase in runoff degradation of our waterways end point.

Even extreme efforts to deflect past sediment build up in Conowingo will not improve the even greater multitude of local impacts. Only a number of concerted efforts in many arenas will do so. Frederick County must do its part. I for one am glad to see the state finally exerting administrative power over the actions that can either make us do our part in water quality, or pay in both costs and environment for generations to come after us.

If Commissioner Smith believes that Frederick County has a difficult task before it in cleaning up our waterways, then he needs to visit leaders in Anne Arundel County where projections of full cleanup costs have been $4 billion over 20 years. Intense development, critical areas of 30 percent, and failing septic systems all loom over it, but planners say that while expensive, the need for progress is great, and the costs doable. The costs are doable here too. When the paradigm of building practices and water management change, we’ll all benefit, and the benefits will yield long-term returns on investments.

I applaud the clear editorial responsibility taken over the years by The Frederick News-Post towards writing about water quality issues and environmentally-based legislative matters. It has been a proactive community partner in addressing community concerns with this most basic public resource. If only we could expect a more balanced approach and direction from our county leaders and their supporters within the development community.

There was a time when we had a national leader from Frederick promoting the bay cleanup efforts and adding to our stature in congressional representation. Now we’re lessened as a community by the tenor of the fractured national politics and mindless nay-saying that seem to have accompanied our recent national debate. The real costs of failure in regard to our water pollution improvements would be Frederick, pennywise, but for our common future, pound foolish. We can’t march backward when the obvious need to respond to our self-generated problem is standing right before us.

Jack Lynch, candidate for Frederick’s Board of Aldermen


(19) comments


We need better campaign funding laws. It breeds corruption and prevents the sweeping changes needed to save anything.


Hey, after living on Kent Island, MD for 10 years, I now agree with Jack's approach and our State of MD leaders directions to help clean our most important natural resource to MD. Yes, the Bay continues to get low marks not only because of our watershed, but also the Susquehanna River as our biggest polluter to the Bay. Once one lives near the Bay, you will see the large affects of our watershed. Read Captain John Smith's take on how it looked in the days he explored our Chesapeake Bay in 1608. Yes, big storms are an issue we need to review and see actually from where the Bay gets it's new rustic colored waters. Guess?


...and its only going to get worse when the incinerator begins pumping its filth into the watershed


A couple of points that need to be stated to this very well written piece on a very important topic; 1. The hypocrisy of this tax and waste gov who has already raised / instituted taxes 40 times with more to come and I wonder how much of that new income has been dedicated to cleaning up this mess, and while we're at it omalley signed a bill a couple of years ago right after accepting a $100k "contribution" from Covanta which operates the Dickerson garbage incinerator declaring that burning garbage and tires is Tier One Green without any regard to the fallout from what EPA says is "the dirtiest form of energy generation", and the incinerator planned for Frederick by the Waste Authority( a state agency) will dump 400,000 gallons of toxic water every day into the Bay we are told will cost Frederick taxpayers $1.88 Billion to help clean up; 2.The hypocrisy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation which visited us here in Frederick a couple of years ago to pander on behalf of mom for a doubling the flush tax and instituting the rainwater tax but said not a word and in fact claimed they knew nothing about the Frederick incinerator...are these the kind of people you want to send money to; 3. The absolute hypocrisy and stupidity of this and the prior BoCC who have allowed the waste authority to run roughshod over this county with this travesty of an incinerator telling us we have to do this " because our landfill is filling up"...which it is not and one need only to visit the 2012 County Solid Waste Report which states the RF landfill will not fill up based on present use until 2045....but what they don't tell you is the plan for the toxic ash coming out of the incinerator, which will weigh more that all of Frederick countys trash , is to dump it at Reiches Ford and one of the 4 agreements signed by the county , Wheelabrator and the waste authority plugs in a number of $13/ton to do just that , however mysteriously enough there is NO landfill agreement which was due to be crafted and signed many long months ago...and the reason it hasn't been accomplished is the Board doesn't want you the taxpayer to know of this plan ...they don't want you to know that once the ash dumping begins it will fill RF in 14 years and then the taxpayers will have to "invest" another 15-20 million for a new landfill... and this same group has been running around telling the citizens that we are not on the hook to pay back the cost of the half Billion dollars in bonds to be borrowed to construct this poison maker, and one can only conclude from that statement that none of tyhem including the so-called special assistant have even bothered to read any of the contractual agreements, and if one were to read page 11 of the Energy Recovery Agreement it is cleared stated there that WE are absolutely ON THE HOOK to pay back the bonds, pay for the operation and maintebnance , pay for any and all plant mods ( and we have one of those due to new EPA law that will cost $25 Million before its even built) pay for the toxic ash dumping , pay for the "credits" that Wheel. ahs to buy to get past the MDE and even pay for the accountant who will prepare the monthly bill that the waste authority will send the truly galactically stupid this is and the sad part is these so-called leaders believe WE are all stupid enough to just let it happen and when we finally catch on after that first SBC charge hits our real estate tax bill, they will all play the finger pointing game and when that fails political amnesia will set in


And the fab four will be nowhere to be found., while you and I foot the bill.


Well said Jerseygirl.

The childish hate for even the word "environment" shows what the better part of our county is dealing with. This BOCC is too blinded to uncover facts. That's dangerous for all of us especially regarding health (incinerator). This BOCC knows their goose is cooked so expect even more ignorant decision making. Bolt down the furniture.


I agree that all must tbe the stewards of the water, to insure that it remains as cleanas possible, but the writer lost me with "If you observe the Monocacy River after a rainfall, you’ll see the problem — muddy water". REALLY? The water should be clear after a torrential rainfall? I seriously doubt if that were or ever will be the case. Statements as this are what give pause to a lot of people when asked to help clean up the watershed.


Exactly what I was thinking Puddintane. And I expect all the posters below to willingly turn their wallets upside down when comes time to pay for all this. My assertion has always been the same on these type matters. It is much better for mankind to adapt to Mother Earth's changing environment than to try to fight her at every turn on a global or wide scale basis. She will always win. The climate on earth has always fluctuated and will always do so no matter how much money you throw at it. The same can be said for erosion. Does that mean common sense practices shouldn't be put into place to prevent erosion? No, not at all, but let's weigh the cost against the benefit before literally throwing billions down the drain. Buffer zones shouldn't cost anywhere near that amount of money to create. I prefer a common sense approach.


Nature doesn't release carbon into the environment like people do. Nature doesn't till the soil with tractors like people do. What's wrong with leave no trace camping? You are a guest on this planet. Behave the way guests are suppose to behave and don't take the towels.


Every been to the Great Lakes (carved out by glaciers during last ice age) or how about the Grand Canyon? Regardless, as I said earlier, buffer zones are a great way to prevent farming activity from impacting streams any more than necessary . There is no way these zones should cost billions upon billions of dollars and that is my primary beef. Farmer's are already in the planting business so it shouldn't be any big deal for them to grow some extra cover next to waterways. Let's follow the money and see where that "stream" leads....


Riparian buffer
look it up. You learn about that in a 100 level Bio class if not in elementary school


??? And your point is what exactly?


What that indicates is that there is a LOT of runoff from surrounding fields. If you were in a more pristine environment the water would NOT be muddy after a big rainfall. The mud comes from farmers' fields, and those contain fertilizers, so that is an indication that this stuff is all being swept into the river.

and chessy, a Riparian buffer is what is used to prevent a lot of that runoff so that water runs clear after a rainstorm.


At the heart of the conservative view of our planet and environment is the religious notion that this world is a sad and imperfect place, and that they're going to a better place that God has prepared for them, and that the world will be destroyed when they are called up.

Now really, how can you expect people like that to take care of the environment? They're completely irresponsible, believing in a self-centered, childish fable. You have to do it for them, ignore their whining and make them share the cost. That's how responsibility works.


Just like the weather change deniers that do not want to do even sensible things because they lack sense.

They cannot help it because the only feeling they can feel is anger.


The Flat Earthers will be finding much fault with this line of reasoning today because it is indeed reasoning.


In any litigation on this issue between he and Smith, money is on Lynch. Its time to put subject matter experts vs politicians into public service, particularly when it comes to protecting our most vital resource, our water.


Mr. Lynch misses one major issue: who pays for it? The Anne Arundel cleanup is projected to cost $4 billion over 20 years. That's $200 million per year and that's a lot of money. Why is stormwater runoff a bigger problem than, say, street and highway maintenance or wintertime snow removal? I know of a place in my neighborhood where erosion has cut deeply into a farmer's field. Granted, that should probably be fixed, but who pays for it? The farmer is probably operating on a slim profit margin and that gully is probably very low on his priority list. Politicians too often miss the big picture and forget the taxpayer in their crusades.


Excellent points. You have my support. The bottom line is we have way to many older vested interests who wanted you all to move here, with out haveing to change there way of thinking,,, just to increase there bank accounts.

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