Beebe is also working with the county's "relatively new" residential watershed protection credit and reimbursement program for installing rain management techniques, she said. Eligible homeowners can apply for a one-time, lump-sum payment of up to 50 percent of their expenses, or for a 20 percent credit against the annual watershed protection fee.

The 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed — into which local sub-watersheds eventually empty — is the largest on the Atlantic seaboard and includes much of Virginia and Maryland, according to the group's website. It also includes parts of West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as all of Washington.

The Howard County Watershed Stewards Academy follows a five-step program that starts with identification of pollution sources. Subsequent steps range from creating pollution reduction strategies to installing projects that curb the stormwater volume infiltrating streams.

Terry Matthews, who was hired in December as part-time coordinator for the academy, said he will focus on finding grant money to accomplish the group's goals, and on helping the advisory committee build capacity.

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"Howard County, in my mind, has done its homework," said Matthews, a Baltimore County resident. "Now we need citizens to step up because we can't do it without them."

Huestis agreed, saying, "The success of this effort depends on individual people taking responsibility."

Chesapeake Bay talk

The Howard County Watershed Stewards Academy will host an evening with Nicholas DiPasquale, director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Howard County Conservancy, 10520 Old Frederick Road, Woodstock.

He will speak on what residents can do to clean their water, and there be opportunities to ask questions and voice concerns.

Admission is free, but attendance is limited to the first 100 registrants at