A Better Alternative to Anne Arundel’s Bottomless Pit
by Sonia Linebaugh
Along Broadwater and Carr’s creeks, north of Deale, neighbors are thrilled that a long-delayed dredging project promises to clear their waters of decades of silt. The dredging is a good idea.
Anne Arundel County’s plan to dump the dredging spoils near Town Point Marina, south of Deale, is a bad idea.
The proposed dredge spoils dump is in the Critical Area, “land immediately surrounding the Bays and their tributaries that has the greatest potential to affect water quality and wildlife habitat … all lands within 1,000 feet of tidal waters or adjacent tidal wetlands.” In addition, it is zoned RCA, Resource Conservation Area, which is meant to “conserve, protect, and enhance the overall ecological value” of the coastal area. Anne Arundel County calls the dredge dump site “an exception” because it was used 20 years ago for passive storage of dredge spoils by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The dredge site is infested with phragmities, an invasive grass so obnoxious that last summer the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department sprayed aquatic Round-up on a large stand along Town Point Road. So far, Bay Land Consultants and Designers, contractor for the dredge project, has not introduced a plan for ridding the site of phragmities before digging and grading to increase the containment capacity by 50 percent.
The county plan is not only to dump the spoils but also to truck them to Sudley Landfill once they have dried. This would allow the Town Point site to be used and reused through 2023, when the lease on the property runs out. This is a dreadful idea.
Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning designates these same roads as Scenic and Historic, a fact touted on the county website. “The Queen of the South County rides” is the description Annapolis Bicycle Club uses for a route that includes Leitch, Town Point and Fairhaven roads, the same narrow, scenic roads the county must use to truck the dried spoils. According to scientist Steve Marley, one heavy truck will be coming or going on the idyllic roads every six minutes from July through October in alternating years. That’s one heavy truck for every 20 vehicles on a typical weekday. The proposed fix is flagmen at critical intersections.
There is a better way. The dreadful idea of trucking dredge spoils along pristine country roads should be dropped immediately. The plan for continued use of Town Point for dredge spoils can be amended. One solution is for the county to use Town Point as a passive dump site for the spoils from Carr’s and Broadwater creeks while looking for an alternate site or a shoreline development project that would welcome the spoils.
It’s time for the county to stay true to our collective vision of the good life along the Chesapeake Bay as embodied in our literature and our law.
Sonia Linebaugh, of Fairhaven, is a longtime contributor to Bay Weekly and a former associate editor.