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Gaithersburg’s Environmental Affairs Committee Agenda

September 27, 2011 Green Blog No Comments
City of Gaithersburg Environmental Affairs Committee

Gaithersburg Environmental Committee member showing water run-off's path.

Gaithersburg, MD

September 26, 2011

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin


Do you know that the City of Gaithersburg is a signatory of the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement that commits the signees to strive to meet or exceed Kyoto protocol targets for reducing global warming pollution?  Ever wonder why you have large bins and single stream recycling available as a resident?  Do you know that the City of Gaithersburg took the lead in Montgomery County by enacting strong energy conservation building codes in 2008, requiring that new commercial and residential buildings be LEED certified?  These environmentally conscious decisions are due in large part to the concerns of city residents serving on Gaithersburg’s Environmental Affairs Committee.

Gaithersburg’s Environmental Affairs Committee was established 21 years ago in September, 1990. The first committee was appointed by Mayor Edward Bohrer, Jr. to work on recyling issues.  The Environmental Affairs Committee is charged with advising the Mayor and City Council on environmental protection, pollution prevention and the restoration of scarce and unique ecosystems.  Gaithersburg residents serve a two-year term once appointed to the committee.

Chairperson Karen Rainbolt leads the current committee of six city residents with City Council liaison Cathy Drzyzgula.  Several action items constitute this year’s agenda.  Along with the annual Green Week activities and City of Gaithersburg Environmental Awards, Rainbolt explains “we would like to start monitoring the water quality in all the streams and lakes in the city.”

According to the the United States Protection Agency (EPA), water quality data are used to characterize waters, identify trends over time, identify emerging problems and determine whether pollution control programs are working.  The Izaak Walton League and the Muddy Branch Alliance are two local organizations in Gaithersburg that promote the importance of monitoring water quality and train people how to monitor water.

“Another issue that we are looking into,” Rainbolt continued, “is the use of pesticides and chemicals in lawn care.”  The committee is surveying homeowner associations in the City of Gaithersburg to learn what products are being applied and whether they are synthetic herbicides and pesticides or  organic.  The committee will consider whether to suggest changes to City of Gaithersburg with respect to lawn care practices.

Another committee agenda item, according to Rainbolt, is publicizing and enabling the proper disposal of compact flourescent light bulbs (CFLs).  More and more flourescent light bulbs are being sold since they reduce energy use; however, CFL bulbs contain mercury and cannot be discarded in the regular trash bin like regular incandescent light bulbs.  If a flourescent light breaks, small amounts of mercury vapor are released and can be inhaled or possibly end up the ground if not safely disposed of.

Montgomery County Division of Solid Waste  has a collection point as does Home Depot and Lowe’s in Gaithersburg and Rockville, but the Environmental Affairs Committee is working on establishing additional collection points in the City of Gaithersburg.

These issues as well as numerous long term goals, such as the promotion of sidewalks and bike paths and the protection and enhancement of urban wildlife, to name a couple, are the focus of the Environmental Affairs Committee.  This committee has regularly scheduled meetings on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm at Gaithersburg’s City Hall.  Gaithersburg residents are welcome to attend these meetings.  Residents interested in serving on the committee can contact Monica Sanchez, the City’s Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator.

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