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Actions that local government and community members could take to improve the Lower Patapsco watershed were the topic of a 90-minute meeting at the Catonsville Library Tuesday evening.

Marking storm drains as a reminder that the drain flows into the Chesapeake Bay, disconnecting downspouts, planting trees and installing rain barrels and rain gardens were among the steps residents can take, according to a consultant who spoke at the meeting to an audience of about 20 people.

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Local governments should include provisions for street sweeping, trash management, stream restoration, storm water pond conversion and illicit discharge monitoring as capital projects, said Nancy Roth, the watershed program manager for Versar, a county consultant based in Columbia.

Roth spoke as the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS) provided the results of a one-year study to develop the Small Watershed Action Plan (SWAP).

The SWAP outlines opportunities for municipal and citizen-based strategies to clean up the Lower Patapsco watershed, which includes the communities in the 21227 and 21228 ZIP codes.

"The county is also interested in supporting citizen-based strategies and spurring on action from the ground up," Roth said. "Participation at all levels is really the theme of this plan."

The goal for each of the strategies, Roth said, is to reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

The goal is to cut nitrogen levels by 29 percent, phosphorous by 45 percent and sediment by 25 percent, Roth said.

The EPS will have a final report available on its website in April.

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