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Two wastewater overflows occur on WSSC property

  • Published in State

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission officials said tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater spilled each in two separate instances near an Upper Marlboro wastewater treatment plant Saturday.

WSSC crews placed warning signs at the sites of two separate overflows that occurred near the Western Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant in Upper Marlboro Saturday.

“We posted signs at both sites, and we cleaned the affected area (s),” WSSC spokesperson Ayoka Blandford said.

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Protesters Swarm D.C.

  • Published in Local

Hundreds of thousands protest against Trump and for climate, jobs and justice

Peoples March 3Protesters show up in the District for the second time in as many weeks for the Climate March. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREV

WASHINGTON – Thousands of marchers descended on the nation's capital Saturday chanting, "This is what democracy looks like" in protest of the current Trump administration's policies on the environment, economy and civil rights.

"I am here fighting for environmental justice because families and communities like mine carry the burden of climate change, yet their voices are erased from the broader fight," said Johana Vicente, 24, an organizer with the Maryland League of Conservation Voters from Silver Spring and one of the speakers at the event.

"For me it is personal. It is personal because my mom was diagnosed with asthma after a few years of being in this country," she added. "I am in this fight for because I want an environment where our communities can go outside and not worry about where they will be able to breathe or not."

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Blinded Me With Science!

  • Published in Local

Thousands take to the streets in the District to show support for scientific research

Science March 4Protesters in the District show up to show their support for scientific research.                  PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREV

WASHINGTON – Thousands took part in the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Saturday, demanding President Donald J. Trump and his administration recognize climate change and the need to fund scientific research.

“We march today to affirm to all the world that science is relevant, useful, exciting, and beautiful,” said former New Jersey Congressman and one-time Bethesda resident Rush Holt, who currently serves as the executive director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Evidence should not be optional. Good policies start with an understanding of how things actually are,” he added, speaking to a crowd on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

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Congress struggles to be more HONEST about transparency

  • Published in News

CAPITOL HILL – Republicans in Congress are having a second go at a measure they say will increase transparency of federal environmental regulations.

On March 29, the House of Representatives voted 228-194 to pass the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act (HONEST Act), which prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing an action, including a new regulation, unless the scientific and technical information used to make that decision is “the best available science; specifically identified; and publicly available online in a manner that is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results.”

Both Maryland Reps. Anthony Brown (D-4) and Steny Hoyer (D-5) voted against the measure.

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Local bee population continues to decline as problems with mites mount

  • Published in Local

inside-the-bee-hive

During April, the Bee Informed Partnership, of which the University of Maryland is a major participant, conducts a national survey on the state of the bee population and the number of bee colonies lost during the prior year.

In the 2014-2015 survey, about 44 percent of bee colonies were lost, and once again the data showed that the bees died in the summer as well as the winter. While it’s normal to lose bees in the colder months, it should not be happening during the summer, said University of Maryland Assistant Professor Dennis van Engelsdorp.

Results of the current survey are expected to be released mid-May.

“Locally, here in Montgomery County and the D.C. area, bee hive losses are pretty high, 40 to 50 percent,” said Jim Frazier, owner of the Maryland Honey Company in Gaithersburg.

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Gaithersburg moves ahead on budget amid funding fears

  • Published in Local

Gaithersburg Govt logo

GAITHERSBURG – Council member Michael A. Sesma, a longtime member of an advocacy group representing municipalities across the country, shared concerns about proposed federal budget cuts at a March 20 meeting that were first expressed at the National League of Cities’ Congressional Cities Conference in Washington last week.

Sesma noted that in the past, the NLC had been granted meetings with members of incoming presidential administrations, including cabinet secretaries, but that its only audience thus far with a member of the Trump administration was a presentation by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma attorney general sued the agency he now leads on multiple occasions.

“It was an interesting presentation,” Sesma said. Sesma added that President Donald J. Trump's proposed wide-reaching cuts in the federal budget had alarmed many NLC members.

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Unknown chemicals may pose water supply risk

  • Published in Local

As it turns out, the old adage may be right – what you don’t know can harm you.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates 83 contaminants as part of its primary standard on drinking water.

These contaminants include lead, trihalomethanes, asbestos, bacteria and viruses, which if above a certain level, are a risk to human health.

But the EPA also has another list of 30 contaminants that agency monitors but does not regulate.

For many of these contaminants the science is unclear whether they are a health risk to people, while others clearly pose a risk to people.

“The only concern is something we don’t already know, that just started coming up in the newspaper and we don’t know how to test for it or something some people may say it’s bad, but we don’t know whether it’s really bad,” said Jin Shin a water quality manager at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), the primary water utility for people in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties.

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"Safe To Drink"

  • Published in Local

"Water Supply Challenges" Part Five of Five: Well water in area has issues but tests confirm few dangerous contaminants

Faucet Running Water

Hard water is enough of an issue for area homes that receive their drinking water from wells that even the Poolesville town manager has a water softener installed at his home.

Water tests conducted by National Testing Laboratories for The Sentinel Newspapers showed the level of hardness at one sample site in Poolesville reached 210 milligrams per liter, 21 times the minimum detection level and twice the guideline set by the Water Quality Association and used by National Testing Laboratories.

Water hardness is not enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency like lead or other dangerous contaminants.

So while the water in Poolesville is still safe to drink, National Testing Laboratories director of business development Marianne Metzger said homeowners with hard water may want to consider treating it in order to prolong the life of their washing machines and sinks.

“It’s absolutely safe to drink. It’s totally an aesthetic issue,” said Metzger. “Knowing that you have hard water, you know it’s going to be harder on your appliances… It’s a choice that people have to make.”

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Bottled water may not be best bet

  • Published in Local

 

water-bottle

Whether it’s for a preferred taste, accessibility or comfort in its quality, bottled water sales have skyrocketed in the United States in the last few decades.

According to a study by Beverage Marketing Corporation, bottled water is expected to overtake soft drinks as America’s largest beverage category by 2017.

Yet while many consumers worry about chemicals and contaminants in their tap water, bottled water is not free from concern either.

The Sentinel Newspapers conducted an independent investigation, testing the quality of water tap water at private residences and public buildings as well as lakes, rivers and streams in Montgomery and Prince George’s County.

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Water quality may have adverse effect on your pets

  • Published in Local

SEABROOK – County residents may want to think twice before giving Fido a bowl of water or filling Swimmy’s tank in Prince George’s County.

Over the past few months The Sentinel Newspapers has conducted a series of water tests throughout the county. The tests samples were pulled from city water, provided through the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), while local rivers and lakes and were analyzed by National Testing Laboratories Ltd. in Ypsilanti, Mich.

While the water sampling did not yield any serious red flags in water quality, as most contaminates fell below Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, The Sentinel found numerous traces of metals, moderate to high levels of chlorine and variances in water hardness.

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