From the office of Sen. Barry Glassman:
Northern Harford County State Senator Barry Glassman & North Harford Councilman Chad Shrodes have joined the effort to reconnect the North Harford High School teaching wetlands.
Around 1998, students were asked to determine a solution for high nutrient levels in an attempt to reach the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program’s goals of 40% percent nutrient reduction. After some research, they proposed building a wetland to further treat the wastewater to remove the nutrients. In 1999, with help of the Harford County Soil Conservation District (HCSD), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), an Environmental Protection Agency 319 Grant was written and obtained. The Chesapeake Bay Program’s Tributary team from the upper Western shore was especially helpful in getting the grant funds. The students also helped to write a Chesapeake Bay Trust Grant to help fund the solar pump needed to pump the effluent to the constructed wetland. The USFWS also offered a Partner’s for Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration Grant to help pay for the plants. A total of $47,000 was raised to construct a wetland on the North Harford High School property. During the subsequent years the North Harford High School wetlands project became a unique and valuable teaching tool for the entire North Harford school community.
After the renovation and construction of the new North Harford High School building and state of the art sewage treatment plant the teaching wetlands were disconnected. State and local bureaucratic hurdles have blocked the reconnection of the unique teaching wetlands since that time.
Senator Glassman and Councilman Shrodes have met with representatives of the North Harford High School staff and representatives of the Facilities Department of the Harford County Board of Education recently. Senator Glassman has indicated that he has begun to lay the groundwork to begin the process of reestablishing the existing wetlands and pond. The Maryland Department of Environment has indicated that they would entertain an amendment to the site’s existing discharge permit for the reconnection of the wetlands. The discharge, which currently is flowing directly toward a nearby tributary, would again be diverted through the wetlands and into the existing pond in an effort to lower nitrogen levels. The proposal would also include the installation of a monitoring well to track the nitrogen levels and report them to the Maryland Department of the Environment and Harford County Board of Education.
Senator Glassman believes that these types of teaching wetlands would be a great addition to State and Federal goals to reduce nitrogen levels in the tributaries and eventually in the Chesapeake Bay: “With the advent of the new Chesapeake Bay Bill and the proposed Total Maximum Daily Loads for the State of Maryland, these types of projects make great data collecting facilities and great teaching tools.”
In addition to their efforts to connect with this particular wetland teaching site, Senator Glassman and Councilman Shrodes will be working with Ms. Laura O’Leary’s Environmental Science Class on a legislative project which will propose a task force to review regulations as they relate to the establishment of teaching wetlands at secondary educational facilities in an effort to streamline and expedite future proposals.
If you would like additional information on this proposal, please give the Senator a call at 410-440-9267.