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Howard County officials announced plans Thursday to begin the largest stream restoration project in the county's history on farmland in Woodbine.

The $4.1 million project will restore around 6,200 feet of Cattail Creek over the next two years as the county attempts to meet state requirements to tackle stormwater runoff by 2019.

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The project, which is on a part of a creek on Maple Dell Farm in Woodbine, illustrates how the county must work with private property owners to meet state requirements for stormwater management, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said Thursday afternoon.

The state has mandated that Howard County tackle stormwater runoff of 2,000 acres of surfaces that cannot completely absorb water. Those impervious surfaces carry runoff ridden with pollutants into nearby waters.

So far, the county has treated more than 170 acres.

The Cattail Creek project is the county's first major stormwater runoff project on private land.

The county has worked with David Patrick, owner of Maple Dell Farm, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Resource Environmental Solutions, an environmental company, to launch the project.

Benjamin Grumbles, Maryland Secretary of the Environment, lauded the "innovative" project as a model for other jurisdictions and said the health of the Chesapeake Bay depends on projects like the stream restoration project at Cattail.

Maple Dell farm is one of three remaining dairy farms in Howard County and part of its land is in agricultural preservation. The day-to-day agricultural operations of the farm will not be disrupted, county officials said.

Lindsay DeMarzo, a sustainability project manager with the county, said the Cattail Creek project was a win-win for the farm, the county and environment. Cows on the farm will benefit from healthier stream water, she said, and threatened species downstream will be protected.

The county plans to apply for a grant form the Department of Natural Resources to help cover costs of the program. WSSC is also providing funding. The stream cuts into the Triadelphia Reservoir, a body of water on the Patuxent River in Howard and Montgomery counties that is used by WSSC to supply drinking water.

Other property owners have expressed interest in working with the county to manage stormwater runoff, DeMarzo said.

The state-mandated requirement for stormwater management, known as an MS4 permit, is part of the Clean Water Act, a federal policy that attempts to curb pollution discharged by storms drains, pipes, roads and other areas into the Chesapeake Bay and other bodies of water.

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