I fully support the county executive and County Council as they attempt to redevelop a citizens board for the Monocacy River, but failing to include the entire watershed under its purview would be a mistake. Much like treating heart disease, focusing on repairing an artery without treating the capillaries that feed its bloodstream is treating a symptom without addressing the larger problem. To have a clean waterway, you need to address the many smaller-source pollution contributors.
The new board is to include a focus on science-based solutions and planning, but we know too much about the million small pollution contributions to believe that we can solve the river’s cleanliness without also involving the wider impacts coming from every watershed source.
I hope that we will see a new generation of citizen leadership prepared to serve on the board and build a better foundation for protecting our shared resource in progressive ways. Many previous citizen volunteers made great contributions to the prior state-developed board, until it was taken over by a self-centered and politically aspirant cabal in recent years. Most of them left the board in frustration and despair, as I did, and could only hope the tide would turn to build a new board.
The need to address clean water will only be compounded in the near future as new problems have arisen that we still have a limited grasp of, the thousands of chemical compounds reaching waterways, the many more thousands of interactions between these chemicals creating new combined threats, treatment precursors, ingredients of personal products and prescription drugs, continued massive agricultural runoff problems despite a focus on dealing with those sources of phosphorus and nitrogen, the continued land use development and runoff, the loss of forests and a list of other challenges.
We pay a price for unclean waterways in health, in the cost of treatment of drinking water sources, and in habitat and environmental value losses. We need a group that can get its arms around the primary challenges and engage both government and citizens in amending their actions and improving their impacts across all sectors. To get there, we need participants who earn educational credits for keeping up-to-date and learning about the best science and knowledge of water quality and how to address these issues in the county.
Former Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board member