Annapolis officials have given an Anne Arundel County contracting company a Friday deadline to address environmental concerns raised by residents and an alderman two months after the company was fined for violations at a construction site near Quiet Waters Park.
In late July, Reliable Contracting Co. was fined a $2,000 for infractions of failing to maintain sediment and erosion control and an illicit discharge where sediment left the construction site. The contractor was required to fix broken silt fences and lay down woodchips, among other remediation.
Last week, Alderman Rob Savidge, a Ward 7 Democrat who chairs the Environmental Matters Committee, called on the city to again impose new fines on the contractor and issue a stop-work order on the site at Parkside Preserve, which will eventually become a residential community.
Savidge compiled a report with photos and descriptions of alleged environmental violations he observed from around the edges of the property and from above via drone, such as discharges of murky water and examples of unstabilized stockpiles and travel ways late last week.
“There’s just no excuse,” Savidge said. “The bottom line is (the city is) still allowing (Reliable) to not follow our laws, and it’s absolutely fineable. They absolutely should have put a stop-work order, no question.”
But no new fines are coming.
Following a three-hour meeting Tuesday morning between Jackie Guild, deputy city manager for resilience and sustainability, John Dixon, Reliable’s vice president, Public Works Director Michael Johnson, and other staff, the company has until Friday to take steps to address issues identified by Savidge at the site, Guild said.
The contractor has agreed to take steps to mitigate potential sediment runoff by adding additional straw, installing more silt fences and exploring ways to reduce the turbidity — cloudiness — of stormwater that is being caught in the site’s sediment basins, according to report a from the meeting. The cloudy water from runoff can inhibit plant growth and affect a waterway’s ecosystem.
One solution for the cloudy water is the use of flocculents, a chemical that attaches to particles to help clean the water. It will take time to implement that plan as the chemicals are regulated by the Maryland Department of the Environment and require additional permitting, Guild said.
Other mitigation efforts could also take a day or two as the company has to purchase additional straw and other materials to meet the city’s requirements, she said.
Representatives for Reliable could not be reached Tuesday.
In late July, city officials were notified of violations at an area of wetlands adjacent to Parkside Preserve, also known as the Reserve at Quiet Waters, which included a silt fence that was leaking sediment into nearby protected wetlands and a torn-up access path. Those violations occurred in a different location from those identified by Savidge.
Savidge and other environmental advocates like Jesse Iliff, a riverkeeper with the Arundel Rivers Federation, have been raising alarms about the project for months.
There have been as many as 13 violations at the construction site, including a failed inspection in December 2020, according to eTrakit, the city’s permitting and license system, Iliff said.
The property is located between Harness and Aberdeen creeks, which makes it important to impose and maintain strict environmental protection plans to protect those waterways, Iliff said.
“People have this perception that, you know, God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt, but that’s wrong,” he said. “The reason that there’s a federal mandate on those pollutants is because they matter.”
Guild pushed back on the assertion that the city is not doing enough, pointing to the city’s policies to inspect the site three times a week, and adding that the contractor inspects the site daily.
“The city is inspecting and enforcing at the site,” she said. “If there are any other violations going forward, they will be caught and fines will be applied.”
Maryland Department of the Environment inspectors are expected to tour the site later this week.