Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER® Year End Holiday Wrap Up

Sunny morning along the Gunpowder River in Gunpowder State Park
Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER 2014 Year End Holiday Wrap up:The Gunpowder River is a drinking water source for over 1.8 million residents in the Baltimore-metro area. It is recognized as a world-class wild trout fishery and is an important boating and swimming destination.

Our legal projects, outreach and advocacy are strengthened by your support. The winter solstice allows us to reflect on the past year. We are especially thankful for three notable gifts. Support from our volunteers, legal support provided to the organization. Generous donations from our new and renewing members are also vital to our efforts! In 2015, communities in the lower River that have been impacted by polluted runoff and sediment pollution will be represented by the RIVERKEEPER®.

Flowers in Gunpowder State Park

Legal Projects: GRK is faced with many environmental challenges in the watershed that must be argued in a legal context. GRK cannot afford a staff attorney so the organization has leveraged pro-bono legal counsel to protect the Gunpowder River. At a conservative estimate of $250 for each hour donated, GRK has realized over a half million dollars in free legal support in the past four years to protect the River.

The GRK appeal of the FERC Certificate of Public Need and Necessity is now before the second highest Court in the United States. The Certificate allowed Columbia Gas Transmission/NiSource to exercise eminent domain on residential properties in Harford and Baltimore Counties before 17 plans, permits and approvals were finalized for the project. GRK has also petitioned the Harford and Baltimore County Circuit Courts for judicial review of the Maryland Department of the Environment 401 Water Quality Certification and related Wetland and Waterways Permit for the project because it was not protective of water quality. In 2015, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals will hear the Baltimore County MS-4 Stormwater Permit. GRK appealed the permit because it failed to incorporate a compliance schedule and representative monitoring to protect the Gunpowder and its tributaries.

Gunpowder River Streamwalk and Service Project

Outreach: The Organization has lead community, office, school groups and Scout and Brownie troops on stream walks and service project along the River to discuss the sources of City drinking water and the importance of wild trout; Since 2010, GRK has maintained 14 wader wash stations to prevent the spread of the invasive algae Didymo. The organization sponsored an Eagle Scout Project across the 7.2 miles of catch and release managed water that provided fishing regulation signs at each of the eight access points along the Upper River. This year Environmental mapping has a helped us identify impacts to the river and its watershed from industrial activities.

Advocacy: GRK served as a public interest member of the State Water Quality Advisory Committee; Created awareness that current management protocols of Baltimore City DPW that manage Pretty Boy Reservoir at full pool impacts the River with widespread flooding during heavy rainfall events, is counter to the Baltimore City Watershed Agreement and the Loch Raven Total Maximum Daily Load (Pollution diet) and can be prevented with proactive management that allows the reservoir to fill rather than spill during Hurricane Season; Worked with Maryland Park Service staff on trail closures and clean-ups; Informed Maryland Natural Resources Police on poaching complaints; Provided regulatory comments to the Maryland Department of the Environment on Water Quality standards for cold water streams in the state.

Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER service project

GRK Sign-Ons:
GRK supported a comment letter to the Maryland Department of the Environment on general discharge permits NPDES# MDG01 for animal feeding operations concerning unregulated animal feeding operations that contribute to surface water pollution and measures that should be undertaken such as inspections of animal waste storage facilities, water quality monitoring, reporting requirements, and public participation in order to make progress towards restoring land and water quality and the Chesapeake Bay. GRK also supported a Maryland house Bill on the prohibition of storage, treating, discharging or disposing of flow back or other wastewater in the state resulting from Hydraulic fracturing of natural gas. GRK upported a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency and Office of Management and Budget urging the publication and revision of more effective regulations for chemical dispersants used in oil spills. GRK also joined other Waterkeeper Alliance member organizations in supporting more protections and to waterways under the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule.

Float the Upper Gunpowder River

GRK Testimony and Letters:

“Le Gardeur’s group and 17 other environmental and community organizations believe potential effects on the region’s drinking water system have not gotten the attention they deserve. Of 70 waterways the pipeline would cross, 39 are sources of the region’s drinking water. ‘They’re not looking at the cumulative impacts,’ said Le Gardeur, who is also a fishing guide and tackle shop owner in Baltimore County. Le Gardeur said more phosphorus and sediment could be flushed into the reservoir by construction across the streams and by disturbance of 305 acres of land as the pipeline is laid. Even if the project must go forward, he said, Columbia ought to be required to minimize disturbance of streams and banks by drilling the pipeline under the beds.” ~Pipeline may affect drinking water, activists fear by Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun; January 1, 2014.

Fly fishing the two fish a day stretch on the Gunpowder River

“Le Gardeur said he believes the entire notification process is flawed, because the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Army Corps of Engineers focused its notices on impacts to trout waters, as opposed to drinking water. The ads in the newspapers announcing the public meeting made no mention of drinking water… Le Gardeur said many more residents from the region would have testified at the hearing had they known about the drinking water connection….’The drinking water supply aspect has not really been discussed in a public forum,’ Le Gardeur said. ‘One hundred percent of the drinking water in north Baltimore and Harford County are dependent on these surface water streams. They are only being given a cursory glance.’”~Proposed natural gas line threatens trout stream, drinking water: Groups, official object to Columbia Gas plan to run pipe through pristine valley in Baltimore County by Rona Kobell of The Bay Journal; January 23, 2014.

Prettyboy Spillover
“Over the past three years of flooding, we’ve seen a dramatic loss of healthy banks, a riverwide decrease in the population of trout and less woody debris” where the fish can find shelter, said Theaux Le Gardeur, the Gunpowder Riverkeeper….Le Gardeur and some others say what they worry about now is too much water spilling over the dam, making it more difficult and even unsafe at times to wade into the river to fly-fish. Flows have consistently been well above average, and on a couple occasions this spring after deluges soared to 1,000 cubic feet per second, flooding the valley. But Le Gardeur said he believes the weather-driven surges could be mitigated if the city would lower the level of the lake behind the dam a bit to hold the runoff from at least modest amounts of rain falling on the 80-square-mile watershed that drains into the reservoir. …An added concern comes in spring and summer, Le Gardeur said, when warmer water spilling over the dam from the surface of the reservoir heats up the river. Trout do best in cold water and become stressed when water temperatures rise into the high 60s and 70s. But Le Gardeur called that ‘short-sighted.’ He pointed out that New Jersey officials ordered water levels in four drinking water reservoirs in that state drawn down in an attempt to mitigate predicted severe flooding as superstorm Sandy swept up the coast in October 2012. Besides potentially affecting the Gunpowder’s trout and recreation, LeGardeur said high flows are washing extra sediment into the Loch Raven Reservoir, reducing its capacity to hold water. The erosion also brings phosphorus, a plant nutrient that feeds algae blooms and affects water quality.” ~High flows on Gunpowder stirs debate by Tim Wheeler, Baltimore Sun; June 23, 2014.

This year GRK received a challenge grant from a local foundation of $40, 000 –but the funding is dependent on raising the same! Please consider an annual donation of support or year-end donation via PAYPAL on the Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER website, walk in a donation at the counter during operating hours or drop a check in the mail to GRK, at P.O. BOX 156, Monkton, MD 21111

The protection of the Gunpowder River is a gift worthy of your support.

Theaux M. Le Gardeur

GRK is a Nonprofit 501(c) (3) EIN # 27-1517453. Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Brook Trout