|Action||Develop requirements that will address concerns regarding transfer and off-site management of poultry waste in the Commonwealth.|
|Comment Period||Ends 8/21/2009|
On July 24, 2009 my son and I attempted to canoe out on the Potomac River near Pennyfield Lock, Montgomery County, Maryland, just up river from the water company intake (WSSC.) The river had a horrible smell because there was brown rotting material and rotting algae floating everywhere. We learned later that this was from a confirmed blue-green algae bloom. This bloom spawned strange-colored gunk that attached also to the riverbed rocks and the soil and to all the plant life underwater!
What an extreme disappointment the quality of our river was that evening! What’s going on in the Potomac River, we thought? A subsequent Montgomery County Gazette article indicated many other people had reported this same mess floating downriver in the Potomac, possibly from upriver where the Shenandoah River flows into it. I reported this observation, July 24, to the Maryland Department of the Environment, which had received calls a week earlier and sent a biologist to the Seneca Creek area of the Potomac. He confirmed a blue-green algae bloom. This above-mentioned article quotes a biologist saying this particular algae bloom does smell bad and appears unsightly, but it is not toxic. He then mentioned that river users should avoid contact with it! From this quoted authority, are we to understand that we should avoid contact with the same river water that flows down approximately one mile to the water company utility intake -- where Montgomery County gets its drinking water? Does this sound insane to other people besides me?
If you would go to where one of these algae blooms appears to see this stuff in the river you would not let your children drink from the tap or even shower in the water that comes from this source!
What’s going on in the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers? I think it’s time that we alert users and consumers of this water supply to this problem, put the necessary regulations in place regarding nutrient control and farm runoff and ENFORCE THESE RULES so that our children can inherit a beautiful clean resource. Our reputation as citizens protecting the water is at risk in our generation! Think of the legacy of the sulfuric water that still flows into streams and rivers from mines that were dug in the 1800’s. Those streams cannot support fish or plant life to this day and no solution has yet to bring many of those streams back to life! I hope we have time to clean up our precious and beautiful rivers. Let every one of us help to resolve this issue.
Respectfully and with concern,
Silver Spring, MD