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A River Keeper Says,“To Know the Water is to be on the Water.”

March 1, 2013 Green Blog No Comments
Ann Smith, President of Seneca Creek Watershed Partners

Ann Smith, President of Seneca Creek Watershed Partners








Friday, March 1, 2013

Montgomery County, Md

By: Ann Smith

Part of a Series on Montgomery County, Md’s Watershed Groups.

It is a reasonable request to preserve watersheds.  A watershed  controls water flow from its source to its final destination.  It is a drainage slope.   From The Eastern part of the United States, water drains down towards sea level, the Atlantic Ocean.  In Maryland, water meets the Chesapeake Bay before it reaches the ocean.  The Chesapeake Bay receives fresh water from land, and salt water from the ocean.   The water is brackish, and creates an estuary with high levels of nutrients in the water.  http://www.chesapeakebay.net is a good site for finding current issues with the Chesapeake Bay.

I love to be by the water near my house. I take my cat Sebastian and my dog Cosita with me every week.  The water near my house is a creek in the woods.  It is a small tributary that connects to Middle Seneca Creek.

The trees have their bark removed around the edges, and the pipes from the neighborhood have created these excavation tunnels leading to the creek.  There is little undergrowth, and there are lots of fallen trees with no smaller trees growing to replace them.

I don’t know what a maintained creek should look like, but I know this one needs help.  I felt the need to learn more, so I contacted the Montgomery County DEP. Ana Arriaza is a watershed coordinator for Great Seneca Creek.  She sent me a study that was done in 1999 called Great Seneca Creek Watershed Study May 25, 2999 by Keith Van Ness. http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dectmpl.asp?url=/content/dep/water/sub_greatseneca.asp 

I was invited to a stakeholders meeting for the Seneca Creek Watershed Partners by Meo Curtis.  The group is forming as the Western Watershed Alliance in Montgomery County. The creek consists of five large geographic areas: Upper Great Seneca Creek in Damascus, Middle Great Seneca Creek in Gaithersburg and Germantown, Little Seneca Creek and Ten Mile Creek in Clarksburg, Lower Seneca Creek in Western Potomac at Dawsonville, and Dry Seneca Creek in Poolesville.

Until recently, most of this part of the county was agricultural.  Ten Mile Creek is the cleanest water system within Seneca Creek.

Timing is important. Now is a good time to improve the watershed.  At the end of the last century, research showed that Maryland has done a great job moving the water out of neighborhoods and into the creeks.  I guess you could call them flood zones.  Currently everything flows into the flood zones.   We have a lot of impervious ground that adds to the flooding.  The water does move!  It takes everything with it; trash, nutrients, fish, rocks etc.., and now we have lots of fresh water creeks that bring the “stuff” down to the bay at a faster rate than ever before.

The new objective is to slow the runoff down, and let the water soak into the soil, where plant roots can take up the nutrients and take out pollutants.   As we connect to people within our watershed by practicing methods that slow the runoff, we are creating a culture around a template that already exists.  It is not political, or wealth driven, or driven by cars. We have been given instructions on how to revive the Chesapeake Bay via preserving our local water.  The movement is like a ripple on water.

At first, clean-ups emphasized the watersheds on the eastern shore, and then the Anacostia and Patuxent watersheds.  Great Seneca Creek is part of the Potomac Watershed.  The ripple has moved out and we now have to improve our watershed.

All the people in Maryland are working together to preserve water.   We use it every day!

As educators, accountants, scientists, kayakers, stream stewards and fisherman, we advocate for preserving Great Seneca Creek for future generations. Find your watershed on a county map, and sign up for the alliance near you.  Jack Cochran from the Isaac Walton League and Paul Hlavinka from Muddy Branch Alliance have started a shared calendar for Great Seneca Creek, Muddy Branch, and Watts Branch.  We share a similar logo with Little Falls Watershed.   Local events are posted on Calendars weekly.     Take a look.




Ann Smith, President of Seneca Creek Watershed Partners

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