Activist scientist issues an S.O.S. for area streams


VOLUNTEER Marianne Roebber of Baltimore County isn't just hoping for a healthy world, she's doing her part to make it happen. This weekend, you can help, too.

As an active member of Save Our Streams, she sees S.O.S. as one of the most important links in the chain of efforts necessary to preserve the natural health of "this wonderful world. Otherwise, in an eerie analogy to the words of an ancient Greek philosopher, later generations will certainly not step in the same river.

"All the unwanted biologicals and chemicals together with sand and silt from stream erosion and from unprotected construction work that move through our streams ending in the Chesapeake makes it a sad situation. Pollution takes time and training to find. And, that is what S.O.S. provides," she says.

Roebber and all volunteers for S.O.S., including Jonathan Pearson, the Severn River project director and Abby Markowitz, Baltimore project director, and many more, are making an urgent request for volunteers this Saturday to help monitor water quality in streams around the area.

The project they are calling 100 Points of Stream Monitoring will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The volunteers will gather baseline water-quality data to determine trends in water quality, which will help develop and implement environmental policy.

Volunteers will meet at locations near the water they will monitor and will be given refreshments and a brief training period on Saturday morning. To register and for complete details, call 969-0084 or (800) 448-5826.

Those who will test the upper Gunpowder will meet at Oldfield School, Glencoe Road. Those testing the Jones Falls, Western Run or Loch Raven will meet at Oregon Ridge Nature Center, Beaverdam Road off Shawan Road. For Gwynns Falls or Patapsco, meet at McDonogh School, McDonogh Road, and for the lower Gunpowder, Back River or Bird River meet at Parkville Recreation Center, 8601 Harford Road. Volunteers must provide their own transportation to the streams after training.

Roebber lives close to a branch that runs into the Gunpowder River, and testing of that stream revealed a high level of coliform bacteria that you find in human or animal waste. When that happens, the entire problem of pollution suddenly hits home, she says.

She is also a member of the Gunpowder State Park Conservancy and says, "My concerns go beyond this local work. I also belong to the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and just about all animal protection agencies you could name."

In 1968 she emigrated from Germany to Canada as an elementary school teacher specializing in biology and sports. She obtained a Ph.D. in biochemistry from McGill University and specialized in "allergy and immunology, working in branches of cancer research, genetics and epidemiology of allergy as well as rheumatology. I am a consultant to laboratories at Johns Hopkins University and some commercial ones," she says. Her profession as a scientist has enabled her to put her training to work for S.O.S., she adds.

The Saturday project is in partnership with Baltimore County and the Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The S.O.S. main office is located at 258 Scotts Manor Drive in Glen Burnie.

To register for Saturday or for other monitoring programs, which are held three times a year, or to volunteer to S.O.S. for other help, call 969-0084 or 1-800-448-5826.

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