From: William P. Stack, Baltimore Department of Public Works
Published November 2, 2006 12:00 AM

In Defense of Baltimore's Stony Run Stream Restoration

As Chief of Baltimore City’s Water Quality Management Office, I appreciate the commentary offered by Michael Sprague regarding the Stony Run Project (Expensive Stream Restoration Failures Will Diminish Our Nation’s Appetite for Restoration, 10/6/06). I fully agree with the premise of the article, which emphasizes the need for industry standards and monitoring to reduce the uncertainty of project outcomes.

I would like to assure Mr. Sprague that we are not “Rosgenaults” and have expended considerable time and thought to minimize the risks of failure by assuring that the designers have a proven track record, having the design peer review, prequalifying the contractors and having the design team on-site every day during the construction process. We have also initiated a rigorous monitoring plan to measure the effectiveness of the project in stabilizing the banks and channel of the stream.

I cannot argue with the theme of the commentary that failures of expensive stream projects will diminish our enthusiasm for restoration. However in the case of Stony Run, sensationalistic articles are equally damaging.

Note the Baltimore Sun reporter whose article Mr. Sprague refers to in his commentary happens to reside in the community adjacent to the stream and chose to exclude certain important facts. "NIMBYism" is responsible for the majority of trees being cut because the residents would rather have construction vehicles access the stream through the park instead of along the roadway adjacent to the stream. Other trees will be removed because their root zones have been undercut by the badly eroded banks. Furthermore, the $10 million price tag mentioned in the commentary reflects the estimated costs for the entire stream length -- not the projects under construction which are half that amount.

I offer this friendly advice to Mr. Spraque: Do not believe everything you read.

William P. Stack is P.E. Chief of Baltimore Department of Public Works' Water Quality Management Office.

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