What is the Glenmont Clean Stream Project?
Our ecosystem’s health is important for our quality of life. We rely on our ecosystem for food, water, air, recreation, and many other things. Even at the local level, it is important to understand the impact of our actions on the ecosystem.
Stormwater is a serious problem in our region because increasingly heavy downpours wash over impervious (impenetrable) surfaces like roofs, roads and parking lots, and into our streams. Even lawns absorb very little water. Instead, stormwater washes surface pollutants into storm drains which flow into our local streams, eventually making their way to the Chesapeake Bay.
As a part of our project, we are conducting a monitoring study on the Howard County Glenmont neighborhood streams to assess its water quality and determine if there are actions we can take as a community to improve it. We are sampling phosphate, nitrite, and E. coli levels at all four of our sites every month, twice after heavy rains. We are also surveying aquatic macro-invertebrates (small animals that live in the substrate) to determine how healthy the stream is for living things.
In addition to working in the stream, we are conducting surveys to better understand the Glenmont community’s ideas and approaches toward stormwater and water pollution. Finally, we are engaging the community by providing informational events and presentations.
Where do these pollutants come from?
Pet waste is one of the most common sources of neighborhood pollution. Other pollution sources include lawn care products such as fertilizers and pest control chemicals and litter.
Why does stream pollution matter?
Stream pollution impacts our health, especially since we enjoy using our streams and downstream waters for recreation! Pollutants can spread disease to other animals and to humans.
Additionally, when too many nutrients, like fertilizers, enter rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay, they fuel the growth of algae blooms and create conditions that are harmful for fish, shellfish and other underwater life that many people love to eat. In fact, excess nutrients are the main cause of the Bay’s poor health.
How did you identify a need to monitor stream pollution in Glenmont?
There is always room for improvement in our understanding of ecosystem impacts within our community and we’re still too early in our project to interpret our stream pollution data. Check back later if you’d like to see the data for yourself! For now, our data is still a living document and subject to change. Glenmont Stream Monitoring Data
What are you seeing so far?
We conducted a Neighborhood Source Assessment, or NSA, to see how our community can improve its practices to be more environmentally conscious. We found lots of well-maintained gardens and lawns as well as quite a few dogs. We noticed some room for improvement on implementing rain barrels to conserve water and rain gardens to mitigate pollution from running off into the streams when it rains. If you’d like to see more details of the report, visit our NSA Findings Link.
How do you do your sampling?
We are sampling roughly once a month for phosphates, nitrites, and E. coli bacteria because these are the three most common measurement criteria indicating pet waste or fertilizer pollutants in the water. Since heavy rains flush these pollutants into the streams, bacteria levels often spike a day or two later. We have established four sites that we return to each time. Macro-invertebrate population monitoring is another way of measuring water quality. We are monitoring these populations twice, once in May and once in August. For a more detailed understanding of our sampling methodology and the equipment we are using, visit our Sampling Methodology Link.
How did this project come about?
We are members of the University of Maryland Extension Master Watershed Stewards Program, a community of citizen scientists interested in bettering our watershed ecosystem’s health. Also, one of the team members lives in the area. There’s much more to the program than just this project. Visit the Watershed Stewards website.
How can I take action on my own?
The Howard County CleanScapes Program has funding set aside to help individuals take pollution mitigating action of their own. You can receive a subsidy to cover big portions of the cost of installing a rain garden, conservation landscape, environmentally friendly driveway, green roof, and more! Visit the CleanScapes website for more information and to participate!
I’m interested in getting involved!
If you’d like to get involved in monitoring your community’s stream health, the Master Watershed Stewards Program, or CleanScapes, we’d be very happy to help! Contact GlenmontWSA2022@gmail.com
I want to read more!
There is lots of reading material out there! Here are just a few websites for you to get started: