2015 Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER® Year End Wrap-UP!

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Thank you for supporting our efforts to protect the Gunpowder River! We champion enforcement and compliance of environmental laws within the watershed to protect and conserve the River for all users.

We believe that the proper public notice of state permits is apolitical. Everyone that recreates, lives along or is downstream of the River enjoys the benefits of high water quality and deserves an opportunity to be engaged in the regulatory process. Meaningful public participation results in better projects-those that are protective of drinking water, property interests, sensitive species, recreational and aesthetic values.

Our work links and protects the forests, the fish and the faucet. Ours work is a shared waters perspective that is pro-active and respective of the varied economic, recreational and biological aspects of the River. The Gunpowder supports varied recreational interests, habitat for native and wild trout, drinking water for 1.5 million Baltimore-Metro Area residents and important tidal habitat for Rockfish, Perch and crabs.

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We are faced with environmental threats that must be argued in a legal context. The organization works collaboratively and proactively to find solutions to pollution problems. We are effectively using legal action but only after exhausting all other methods to represent member’s interests in protecting the Gunpowder River and its watershed from sources of pollution.

The Baltimore Circuit Court decision halted the 190 Million dollar pipeline project that impacts 81 waterways and the main stem of the Gunpowder River. The court sent the permit back to the agency and required the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to provide for another public notice period to make sure that residents had an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns about the project.

Soon thereafter, we won two related legal challenges in the Circuit Court and Court of Special Appeals that the pipeline company filed to “stay” the original decision so the project could proceed. Our dedicated expert pro-bono legal staff is now preparing for oral arguments on the revised MDE permit. The new permit still fails to require monitoring of water quality prior to, during the disruptive construction phase and after the construction is completed to make sure that wetlands, seep, spring and streams have not been adversely impacted by the project.

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Advocacy: Riverkeeper has advocated for quantitative monitoring at waterway crossings along the project so the frequency, duration and intensity of any pollution impacts to these resources can be assessed in real-time. Without monitoring the Maryland Department of the Environment cannot provide meaningful compliance and enforcement of state and federal water laws along the 81 waterways impacted by the 305.7 acre, 21.1 mile construction corridor in Harford and Baltimore counties, Maryland.

Outreach: We sponsored an Eagle Scout project that installed regulatory signs along the 7.2 mile Catch and Release section of the Gunpowder River. Volunteers helped with stream cleanups and maintained the 14 wader wash stations to prevent the spread of the invasive algae Didymo.

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News: “A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge has ordered the Maryland Department of the Environment to revise a permit it issued for a 21-mile natural gas pipeline that would run into Harford County. Judge Justin J. King ruled last week it was “impossible” for him to determine whether the permit complies with water quality regulations because it lacks specifics and that MDE did not give enough time for public notice and comment.” ~ Baltimore Co. judge rejects MDE permit for proposed natural gas pipeline by Danny Jacobs, Daily Record, May 4, 2015

“The court ruled that the Gunpowder Riverkeeper did have standing to mount the challenge because of the group’s role as an advocate for clean water… Le Gardeur was gratified by the judge’s 49-page decision. “It is a compelling decision. And the reason is that the permit is tied to water-quality standards,” Le Gardeur said. “I always thought I’d be able to tell MDE and Columbia that they were moving too quickly. Lord knows I tried. Part of what Riverkeepers do is get people to meetings. But it wasn’t easy for me to do because the people didn’t have enough notice to get ahead of this issue.” Although the proposed pipeline route would cross 81 streams, and half of them feed a drinking water reservoir for Baltimore City and County, the MDE only required monitoring on one of them, a Tier II waterway… Le Gardeur has noted since the beginning that all of the agency’s communications have focused on trout and aquatic resources and not emphasized that much of Baltimore County’s drinking water comes from these streams, which feed the Loch Raven Reservoir. If people knew drinking water could be harmed, he said, they would be much more likely to show up to meetings and become informed. Le Gardeur said his goal was never to stop the project; he just wanted to make sure the permit was as protective of water resources as it could be. Merryman said it’s too late for her, but she hopes the victory will help other landowners.“Theaux is tenacious,” she said. “It’s not easy to go up against these guys, but he did it.” ~ Ruling halts Gunpowder pipeline construction, Public was not given enough notice to comment, and the review did not consider historic properties or less destructive options by Rona Kobell, Bay Journal, June 01, 2015

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“ The ruling issued late last week was hailed by environmentalists, who said regulators glossed over how the pipeline would affect the 81 rivers and streams it’s expected to traverse, many of them sources of the Baltimore region’s drinking water and some havens for pollution-sensitive trout.” It will eventually have MDE and Columbia go back through and make this permit more protective of the waterway resources we’re advocating for,” said Theaux M. Le Gardeur, the Gunpowder Riverkeeper and one of the project opponents who took the case to court. “I can’t really tell folks where the pipeline should go, but if they do put it in, they should put it in in the right way.”…To date, the pipeline has been laid from Fallston to the eastern edge of Oregon Ridge Park near Shawan and Beaver Dam roads, LeGardeur said, with one of the most pristine streams in the state next to be crossed. Advocates for the 1,000-acre county park had complained that the pipeline will destroy a swath of mature forest, disrupt wildlife and possibly degrade a popular swimming lake. Le Gardeur, the riverkeeper, acknowledged that tunneling under streams to protect water quality and fish can lead to greater disturbance of land on either side. But he contended that property owners deserved more notice of the project’s route and how it would be built, so they could weigh in on the trade-offs… ~ Court halts stream crossings by natural gas pipeline in Baltimore County by Timothy B. Wheeler, May 18, 2015

“…The permits govern how counties manage their stormwater, how they monitor and report pollutants, how they mitigate runoff flow to their streams and how they tackle trash… Gunpowder Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council are also plaintiffs…The environmental groups said they filed the litigation as a last resort after 18 months of negotiations with the Maryland Department of the Environment in 2013 and 2014…the groups wanted permits that addressed specific issues in the various jurisdictions, a robust monitoring program, enforcement and penalties for noncompliance…Plaintiffs call permits too weak, and argue that public wasn’t given enough notice to offer feedback.” ~MD court to hear appeals over stormwater permits for Baltimore, 4 counties, Plaintiffs call permits too weak, argue that public wasn’t given enough notice to offer feedback…By Rona Kobell, Bay Journal, November 02, 2015

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Water touches all of our lives-our brains are 75% water. Clean Water in the Gunpowder watershed is everyone’s right and as a shared resource must be protected for all!

Everyone lives downstream and everyone has a right to water that is safe to swim and fish in. Cumulative impacts on sensitive trout streams throughout the watershed are irreversible.

We need your financial support to keep the River protected now and in the future. Please consider an annual donation of support or a year–end donation to amplify our outreach, advocacy and legal action.

You may donate at: http://www.gunpowderriverkeeper.org/ or by sending a check to Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER®, P.O. BOX 156 Monkton, MD 21111.

Thank you for your support!

Theaux M. Le Gardeur
Gunpowder RIVERKEEPER®

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like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Gunpowder-Riverkeeper-117083841693978.

GRK is a 501(c)(3) non-profit categorized by the IRS under Natural Resource Conservation. Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

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