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Stop Sewer Sprawl: Rock Creek Conservancy's Letter to the Montgomery County Council

Dear Council President Riemer and members of the Montgomery County Council,

I am writing to you today as a representative for Rock Creek Conservancy in support of requests from the Montgomery County Coalition to Stop Sewer Sprawl.

It is Rock Creek Conservancy's mission to protect the health of the lands and waters that comprise the Rock Creek watershed, 78.8% (16.7 sq mi) of which is located Montgomery County, MD. Stormwater pollution and sewage overflow into the creek is already the number one challenge that Rock Creek faces. With this in mind, we are concerned that promoting additional septic system to sewer line connections in Montgomery County's low-density areas will increase stormwater challenges and ultimately have a negative impact on the health of these lands and waters.

Expanding sewer lines into our rural and agricultural areas is not the solution to Montgomery County’s water challenges. In the past three years, Montgomery County sewers spilled at least of 35,785 gallons of sewage into Rock Creek. This number doesn't include the 40,000 gallons of sewage which escaped the sewer system in January 2018 and spilled into Rock Creek. As we increase sewage lines, these spills will only become more frequent.

In the wake of expanded sewer lines will also come expanded development. This development will assuredly magnify the amount of impervious surface throughout the county which will lead to increased stormwater pollution and a growing need for taxpayer-funded stormwater mitigation projects.

There is no doubt that Montgomery County is a leader when it comes to stormwater management in the state of Maryland. Even still, the county was unable to meet its impervious acreage retrofit requirement for impervious acreage in its 2010 MS4 permit. While the county is now on track to meet this requirement as a result of a consent decree with the state, increasing the amount of impervious acreage in the county will make it challenging, and more expensive, to meet future permit requirements.

It is essential to take the relationship between sewer sprawl, pollution, and stormwater runoff into account in the Ten Year Water and Sewer Plan. Please accept the proposed changes from the Montgomery County Coalition to Stop Sewer Sprawl and, by doing so, protect clean water and a healthy environment for all of Montgomery County and Rock Creek.

Thank you,

Michelle Kokolis
Director of Programs and Operations
Rock Creek Conservancy

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