Howard County bill would allow private property access in Ellicott City to help mitigate flooding

A bill that would allow Howard County public works employees access to stream areas on private property is set to be filed Thursday.

The bill would empower the Department of Public Works to enter properties to inspect streams and other waterways for debris and remove obstructions that could impede the flow of water during storms, county officials said in a news release.

The bill comes at the request of Howard County Executive Calvin Ball amid a multiyear plan to mitigate flooding in historic Ellicott City, The mill town that has had two deadly storms in three years.

County Councilwoman Liz Walsh, whose district includes old Ellicott City, said in a statement that she supports “any effort by our administration to clear and maintain each of three main waterways that run into and through [the watersheds].”

“This bill could be the first step in allowing that work to happen in a systemic, methodical approach that will benefit the entire watershed,” she said.

The legislation would further clarify existing authority the county has to prevent illegal dumping, the news release said.

The council will host a hearing on this bill March 4 at 7 p.m. in the historic George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City.

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