Sustainable Frederick County
Quarterly Newsletter

February 2022

The 2021 "Sailing Through the Winter Solstice" Boat Display on Carroll Creek in Frederick, MD
County Council Passes Climate and Energy Initiatives
On January 18, 2022 the County Council voted 6-1 to pass the County Executive’s Climate and Energy Initiatives. These initiatives fall into four categories: Climate and Energy Action Plan, Clean Fleet and Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, Building Energy and Resiliency Program, and Clean Energy Procurement Program. Some key elements of the $3.7 million dollar proposal include providing 100% of the county’s building electricity from renewables, partnering with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to develop a plan for Frederick County to reduce greenhouse gases and become more resilient to climate change in line with the region, expanding the number of clean vehicles in the county’s fleet, installing electric vehicle chargers at county facilities, deploying clean and resilient building technologies like microgrids and solar with battery backup, developing resiliency to stormwater flooding, providing home energy retrofits for low to moderate income households through the Power Saver program, writing grants to bring federal funds to the County, and providing incentives to businesses who invest in clean energy. The proposal adds 8.5 new staff to the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources to implement the programs. 

The initiatives are best practices used by other jurisdictions; they represent smart investments of county funds for today and the future. “We save green when we go green,” Executive Gardner said. “Sustainability ensures a bright future for our community. It is good stewardship and good government. And sustainability fits with our goals and vision for Livable Frederick.”
Thurmont Regional Library Opens Library Loop Nature Trail
County Executive Jan Gardner, Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird and Thurmont community members open the town’s newest nature trail
The Thurmont Regional Library celebrated the grand opening of the new Library Loop Nature Trail on November 20, 2021.  The new trail creates a scenic connection from the southern end of the Thurmont Trolley Trail, through the forest and connects to the Library Nature Trail. Students from Frederick County Public Schools’ SUCCESS Program helped to develop and clear the trail and planted pollinator gardens once the work was complete. The trail was built with the support of the Thurmont Green Team, the Catoctin Forest Alliance, Catoctin Foundation, Civitan Foundation, Catoctin Area Civitan Club, Civitan Club of Frederick, the Town of Thurmont, and Frederick County Paving.
Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Bill
County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer introduced a bill at the January 11, 2022 County Council meeting to adopt amendments to Chapter 1-6 of the Frederick County Code (Building Code) to require wiring and outlets for charging electric vehicles in certain new residential structures. The Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources and the Frederick County Division of Planning and Permitting (Permits and Inspections) collaborated on this effort.
 
This proposed bill will increase the home charging capabilities for new residential construction by requiring the installation of “level 2” compatible electrical wiring and an outlet (similar to a dryer outlet) in most new residential construction for single homes, townhouses, and duplexes. Citizens have found that retrofitting existing residences for electric vehicle charging can costs thousands of dollars or may not be possible. Contractors in Frederick County have estimated that installing the necessary electrical components to a new construction in Frederick County can cost less than $1000 per home, on average. The proposed bill requires installation in garage, carport, parking pad, or driveway.  The bill does not require installation of level 2 chargers and it does not apply to mobile homes or new dwelling units without electric utility available.
OSER Project Updates
Setting up the stockpile and staging area to
begin construction at Detour Road - Little Pipe
Jefferson-Copperfield Stormwater Pond
Corrugated metal riser to the dam in Point of Rocks
The County has been quite busy with various Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) related to improving stormwater management, protecting our streams, and meeting our required Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. The County partners with our Department of Public Works (DPW) to manage projects from concept design through construction. Currently, we have approximately 17 projects in design, 2 projects under construction, and 3 projects just recently completed. 

Projects under design include 4 stormwater ponds within the Catoctin Creek Watershed in the Jefferson area that are going into construction in March 2022, and a small stream restoration project connected to one of the ponds that will commence in the Summer of 2022. 

The Jefferson-Copperfield stormwater pond was recently retrofitted from an existing wet pond to a surface sand filter. The previous pond was in poor condition and did not meet current stormwater facility standards. The new design incorporated landscaping and areas for public use while updating the efficiency for nutrient and pollutant removals from stormwater before being discharged downstream. The local HOA was heavily involved in the design process and very happy with the final product.
 
Phase 2 of the Point of Rocks stream restoration project will commence later this spring and includes removing an instream stormwater dam to help improve the function of the stream while providing additional stormwater management with the stream channel. The County’s contractor recently completed work at the Little Pipe subwatershed. 

Restoration practices and goals are to provide additional stream function, removing livestock from the stream, and providing a new 35-foot riparian buffer on either side of the stream. This stream is actively eroding and the stream banks in some areas have lost almost a foot horizontal while having a vertical exposed bank of approximately 7 feet tall. 
The Water Molecule Dance
Overall Stream
Vegetated Stream Bank
Non-vegetated Stream Bank
Have you ever placed a bottle of water in your freezer, forgotten about it, and then when you go to grab a scoop of ice cream you notice that the bottle is now, if you are lucky, deformed and completely expanded? This is how water molecules behave when they freeze. Your bottle, (shameless plug to remember to reuse bottles), was completely sealed and didn’t allow the water to expand anywhere as it froze, and its only option was to push against your bottle’s walls. Or, if you are most unfortunate, it blew the cap off and froze onto other objects in your freezer. Can you imagine how we are going to correlate this analogy to one of the largest sources of stream bank erosion? Neither do we, but follow us below.
 
Picture yourself in a super warm jacket, sitting beside two streams in the wintertime.  One stream has lots of vegetation along the stream bank including native ferns, shrubs, and trees, while the other is bare, with no vegetation. Remember the water bottle? There are also water molecules in the stream banks, and they too will freeze and expand. The stream bank with lots of vegetation has a huge advantage, not only in the summertime when those roots assist in naturally protecting the stream, but because those roots also have tiny air pockets around them. The stream bank with no vegetation has very minimum roots which means there is a far less chance of having tiny air pockets throughout the stream bank. 
 
As the water molecules expand on each of the stream banks different things are happening. The lack of air pockets in the non-vegetated stream bank means the freezing water molecules have no place to go. Therefore, the molecules will push the soil out towards the stream causing the soil to flake off (like how it deformed your water bottle). 

This phenomenon is called stream bank “frost heave”. The vegetated stream bank has the tiny air pockets around the roots which will assist in preventing frost heave by allowing the freezing water molecules to expand into those areas. Pretty crazy? One would think that severe summer storms are the time when stream banks erode the most, but our non-vegetated stream banks really erode the most during the wintertime every time there is a freezing and thawing event!
FCG Fix It Mobile App Launch
Reporting a concern just got easier! Frederick County Government is excited to announce the launch of FCG Fixit!- the Mobile App that lets you submit a request and track it right from your phone!

FCG FixIt is a County-wide citizen engagement mobile application and web tool that allows you to report your concerns with specific descriptions, upload your pictures and identify your location. You can also view other reported concerns in your neighboring area.

The free app is named "FCG FixIt" and is available through iOS and Android app stores. Visit the FCG Fixit website for more information and a video on how to use the app..
Do Your Part, Be Salt Smart
snowy-sidewalk.jpg
The Frederick County Division of Public Works’ (DPW) Department of Highway Operations (DOHO) winter preparations began in October with its annual Snow Road-eo training that sharpens equipment operators’ skills and prepares them for the challenges of inclement weather. Storm water maintenance is also a key component of DOHO’s winter preparations. Clearing debris from roadside drainage and culverts keeps pollutants out of waterways.
 
The Frederick County Dept. of Public Works uses a salt brine mixture on our roads. Salt brine is a water solution of 23% salt that is sprayed before a storm, if conditions warrant. It will only be applied in areas where the forecast is for precipitation to begin as snow and not rain. Salt brine proves not only to be more effective on roads, but it is also more cost effective and environmentally friendly. It takes four times less salt to prevent ice accumulation than to remove ice after it has formed. 

Below are a few tips for environmentally-friendly ice and snow removal at home:
 
DO:
  • Shovel ice and snow onto your lawn and allow it to seep into the ground
  • Spread sand, kitty litter, coffee grounds, or dirt instead of salt to create traction. These alternatives are also safer for your pets. Salt can harm their paws and it can damage your plants and cars
  • Use ice melting products that contain eco-friendly ingredients

DON’T:
  • Shovel snow and ice into storm drains. This may create an ice dam that can cause flooding
  • Use too much salt. 12 oz. is enough to treat a 20 ft. long driveway or 10 squares of sidewalk
Make a New Year's Resolution to Go Green and Save Green
The Green Homes Challenge guides, rewards, and recognizes Frederick County households for saving energy, adopting green lifestyle practices, and using renewable energy. It is a fun and easy way to cut your energy costs and make your home more energy efficient!

To get started, register for a free account at FrederickGreenChallenge.org and find actions that are right for your household based on cost, potential savings, and ease of completion. For each action completed, you'll earn points toward your goal. And you’ll see your projected financial, carbon, energy, water, and gasoline savings rise. Complete one or more challenges and become a Frederick County Certified Household!
Power Saver Retrofit Program
Frederick County residents can save money by making their homes more energy efficient. Funding through the Power Saver Retrofits Program will help low- and moderate-income households to have energy audits conducted and energy-efficient home improvements made. Improvements and audits will be funded through a $400,000 Low-to-Moderate Income Grant that was awarded to the Frederick County Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources by the Maryland Energy Administration.

To qualify, households must meet income requirements equal to $57,750 for a one-person household or $82,500 for a four-person household.

For more information about the program, income limits, or to download an application, visit FrederickCountyMD.gov/psr or contact Dawn Ashbacher, the County's Sustainability Program Manager.
Make a New Year's Resolution to Recycle Right!
Frederick County’s Recycle Coach app is a free program that puts recycling information right at your fingertips, any time of day, anywhere.

Recycle Coach can help you find out if winter weather has affected recycling collection on your street, get answers about which bin to toss things in (recycle/compost/trash), and
you can participate in quizzes to assess and improve your recycling habits!

You can also find a wealth of useful information like the flyer to the left about how to Recycle Right, on Frederick County’s Division of Solid Waste and Recycling's website or by following their Facebook page.

The more you know, the better the program works, so cheers to better recycling!
Septic Pump Out Rebate Program
Frederick County residents who have their septic tanks pumped out by a licensed hauler every five years are eligible for a $75 rebate through the Septic System Pump-Out Program. As a best management practice, it is recommended that residents inspect their septic system yearly, and to pump out their system every five years. Inspecting and pumping septic systems promotes their effectiveness and longevity, provides a reduction of nutrient leaching over time, and protects our local groundwater and drinking supplies. Rebates will be available for homeowners who pump-out their septic systems in the amount of $75 regardless of the amount billed for the pump-out service. Due to funding availability, rebates are on a first come first served basis . Please visit our website to apply or contact Suzanne Cliber for more information.
Frederick County COVID-19 Information
The Frederick County Government website has up to date COVID-19 information and statistics.

Vaccine testing site location and appointment information is also available on the website and is updated every Monday.

You can opt-in to receive COVID-19 updates by texting FredCoVID19 to 888777 or receive email updates by registering at Alert Frederick website. Standard messaging rates may apply.
Frederick County Government
Office of the County Executive
Sustainability and Environmental Resources