William "Bill" Lippincott played tour guide Wednesday night, taking 30 neighbors on a grim imaginary visit of Sawmill Creek. At every bend, he described more pollution and erosion, more litter and rubble.
From a junkyard to a pig farm, from sand piles to dumped oil, pollution constantly is seeping into the 13.7-mile creek and its tributaries, Lippincott said.
Sawmill Creek was one of four streams chosen in 1988 for Maryland's Targeted Watershed Program, a cooperative cleanup effort between government agencies and citizens. The 5,000-acre watershed, which encompasses 25 percent of Baltimore-Washington International Airport, wasselected because of its mix of residential, commercial and industrial land.
In the past year, the state Department of Natural Resources has been monitoring Muddy Branch Creek, one of Sawmill Creek's maintributaries near the airport, said Ginger Ellis, environmental planner with the county Office of Planning and Zoning.
Ellis was asked to come to the Glen Burnie Improvement Association building and explain to the Sawmill Creek Park Association what has happened to the creek since the county completed a $30,000 study in 1986.
The association, which was an environmental group active in the 1970s, has been reorganized by former state Sen. Al Lipin in an attempt to persuade the new county administration to buy more park land and protect the creek.
DNR officials have been checking water quality and working with the State Highway Administration and BWI to stop contamination of the creek, Ellis said.
Despite an order to clean up an oil spill near the Highway Administration building by the stream and an agreement with BWI to avoid dumping de-icers that could seep into the water table, Ellis conceded there have been few visible signs of a cleanup effort.
So far, she said, efforts to meet recommendations of the 1986 plan have largely been "tremendous networking" between county agencies. Developers also were encouraged to donate wetlands areas near the creek, and the county Department of Parks and Recreation is considering buying more creek land.
"I suppose if you live in the watershed and drove around you, could say nothing has been done," she acknowledged.
Ellis urged the residents to start their own cleanup campaigns.