Water Sampling, Research, Mapping and More Summer Projects

BCC_Intern Luncheon - 2016-08-12 - 26_50p

Did you know that Back Creek Conservancy’s summer interns participated in water sampling, research, mapping, and more?

The 2016 Back Creek Conservancy intern luncheon Friday, August 12, was a success with 22 people in attendance, including representatives from EYC Foundation, Eastport Civic Association, the Maritime Republic of Eastport (MRE), and Maria Broadbent from City of Annapolis office of environmental policy. Everyone was enthusiastic about the intern program and BCC!


MRE Gives Proceeds of Bridge Run to Back Creek Conservancy

Molly Winans, Mark Travaglini, David Barker (president BCC board), Brett Cureton (premier of the MRE!), Stephanie Moore, and Dick Peterson.

Molly Winans, Mark Travaglini, David Barker (president BCC board), Brett Cureton (premier of the MRE!), Stephanie Moore, and Dick Peterson.

Wow! We had no idea that the Maritime Republic of Eastport, commonly known on the peninsula as the MRE, raised so much money for the community for its annual .05K Bridge Run! Yesterday, several members of the MRE board met at the Back Creek Conservancy’s lab/office at Port Annapolis for the official check presentation. The MRE donated $3600–the most ever made from this event–to BCC. The event itself, May 8, was held one of those rare hours in May with no rain, and more than 100 runners showed up for this entertaining, athletic event that in the true spirit of the MRE makes for “fun with a purpose.” Here are some photos from the run.

THANK YOU to the MRE and to all runners who crossed the finish line. This donation will be put to good use immediately as we implement our Back Creek Watershed Action plan and speak for the creek!


What We’re Up To This Spring

Back Creek Conservancy volunteers at Project Clean Stream April 2.

Back Creek Conservancy volunteers at Project Clean Stream April 2.

The Back Creek Conservancy’s plans for monitoring this year exist in the context of a $72,000 Watershed Assistance Grant awarded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust in late 2015. Most of the funds will be used to develop a Watershed Action Plan intended to improve the management of stormwater, the main source of nutrients and sediment. But $4,750 of the grant forms the financial core of an effort to establish a firm baseline of quantitative data about the present condition of Back Creek’s water..

As of mid-April 2016, we have pulled together many elements of a successful effort:

  • Prof. Andrew Muller, Professor of Oceanography at the U.S. Naval Academy, has agreed to help set up the QA/QC protocols, train citizen-scientist volunteers, and assist us to interpret the data. Prof. Sally Hornor, formerly at the AACC Environmental Center and founder of Operation Clearwater, and Dr. Pierre Henkert, the scientist who has led the Severn River monitoring for the past 12 years, will also serve as Senior Advisors.
  • We have adopted the rigorous EPA protocol described in Volunteer Estuary Monitoring: A Methods Manual, second edition, 2006, as the basis for the entire program.
  • We have acquired space for a small water quality laboratory, in Suite 104 of the Pacific Building at Port Annapolis Marina, 7076 Bembe Beach Road.
  • We have received the donation of a suitable boat, a 10-foot rigid inflatable with a 6 horsepower outboard motor; the boat is now fully operational.
  • We have purchased a very powerful and reliable monitoring instrument, a “YSI ProDSS, Multiparameter Sampling Instrument.” It is a battery-operated handheld device which accommodates up to four from a wide range of sensors. We plan to sample with four sensors: (1) conductivity and temperature, (2) pH, (3) Dissolved Oxygen, and (4) Turbidity. This instrument is said to be optimal for use by adult volunteers.
  • More than a dozen adults, mostly SUP and kayak devotees, have volunteered for the water monitoring training, and three students—two undergraduates at UMD and one senior at Annapolis High School– want to work as interns on the water quality monitoring this summer.
  • The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and GLEON have permited us to pilot test a new app, Lake Observer, lakeobserver.org, a cell phone and tablet means of capturing and storing water quality data.
  • The Back Creek Conservancy is an active member of the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s effort to ensure that monitoring data meets the quality standards of the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Engaging volunteers
We have only just begun, but a few of our efforts thus far:

Oil Spill Disaster Narrowly Averted on Back Creek

IMG_6616On Wednesday, 5 April, The Capital carried a front-page report of a freak accident in which a home heating oil truck overturned at a busy intersection in the Back Creek watershed:

The Capital’s story focused on the disruption caused by the consequent traffic jams, which spread for miles and lasted more than four hours.

What didn’t make the headlines was a potential oil spill disaster averted just days after volunteers cleaned more than a ton of trash from the Back Creek watershed. The fuel oil truck overturned at a storm drain that leads directly to the headwaters stream of Back Creek. Within 40 minutes of the accident, trucks from Ace Environmental were at the storm drain outfall, equipped with oil-absorbing booms and pillows and a large pump truck to remove the oil as it floated out of the storm pipe and into the stream bed.

IMG_6621As of now, about 48 hours after the accident, it appears that almost all of the fuel oil was captured at the outfall and that none of the oil penetrated more than about 70 feet down the stream before it was contained and removed. MDE has still not completed an accurate measure of the extent of the spill, but it is calculated to have been less than 300 gallons.

Ace Environmental, located in Curtis Bay, Baltimore, was also the MDE emergency response contractor for the fuel oil spill into the Crab Creek headwaters at the Annapolis Middle School during the big snow storm at the end of January. Unfortunately, that spill, estimated to have been 220-230 gallons, wasn’t discovered until about 36 hours after it began, and the deep snow and wooded terrain hampered the cleanup, so the oil flowed all the way down to the tidal range, a distance of one-half to two-thirds of a mile. Now, more than two months later, a bright red oil sheen is still visible in the headwater stream after every rain.

Everyone who lives, works, or plays on Back Creek owes Ace Environmental a vote of thanks for their quick and professional response.

Join Us for Project Clean Stream April 2

Join Us for Project Clean Stream April 2

BC Nature Park mapPlease join us for the Back Creek Conservancy’s first spring cleanup day. To join our team of volunteers who will participate in Project Clean Stream along Back Creek on Saturday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to noon, SIGN UP HERE.

We will be scouring areas around the Back Creek Watershed to pick up trash before it makes its way into the creek.  At the end we will weigh the trash collected to share with other Project Clean Stream teams.

On the day of the event, the entire group will meet at Back Creek Nature Park at 9 a.m. to divide into teams. Wear jeans, sturdy shoes with socks, and anything you wouldn’t mind picking up trash and debris in. If you have garden gloves, bring them, too. Bring friends!

Questions? Email molly@backcreekconservancy.org.

Date: 04/02/2016 (Sat.)
Time: 9:00am – 12:00pm EDT
Location: 7314 Edgewood Road – Ellen Moyer Nature Park

Join Us for a Drink!

The Back Creek Conservancy invites anyone who lives, works, or plays along the Creek to join us for a free drink and snacks.  

  • Learn what the Back Creek Conservancy is all about
  • Find out how you can join our efforts to clean up the Creek
  • Have some laughs with your neighbors on a winter’s night

When:   Wednesday, February 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where:  Seafarers Yacht Club, 301 Chester Avenue
(a two-minute walk from Davis’ Pub)

Thank you to Eastport Liquors for donating the beer and wine.