Water Watchdog Report

What: Pollution
Where: Bennington Tributary of Sligo Creek
When: 2014-03-28
Reported By: Anne Vorce
Additional Details:

Action Taken: Reported to pollution detectives at DEP via Water WatchDog email. Posted on Seven Oaks-Evanswood listserv. Neighbors reported pollution sightings in water on Thursday May 27 and also dismantling of ice rink upstream at Veterans Plaza around same time. DEP expert Gretchen Ekstrom found that the ice rink dismantling had polluted the creek and fined the management company $500 for violating the Water Quality Ordinance.

Additional Detail

There was milky gray pollution in the Bennington Tributary at the end of March. Based on our reports downstream and upstream and her professional skill and persistence, DEP water detective and environmental health specialist Gretchen Ekstrom traced the problem to how the Veterans Plaza ice rink was dismantled. (Veterans Plaza drains into Ellsworth Drive, which drains into the Bennington Tributary.) Gretchen fined the rink management company $500 for violating the Water Quality Ordinance.

Gretchen and her boss Steve Martin should be saluted for their work. They and the other DEP water detectives are crucial in helping us protect Sligo Creek every day.

And an enormous shout-out to the Seven Oaks-Evanswood community whose timely sightings were critical to cracking the case:

Isolde Spiegel (and Charlie Whitmore), who saw what was happening at the ice rink as they walked to dinner at Peri-Peri. They were willing to testify about this, which was the critical upstream part of Gretchen’s case.
Nancy and Glen Gehman who first spotted the Tributary pollution and started the neighborhood ball rolling by telling Bill Shaw.
Mike Gurwitz, who confirmed that the ice rink was being vigorously dismantled around the same time the pollution appeared downstream.
Norman Rushefsky and Anne Vorce, who reported pollution in the Tributary
For those who are interested, here is Gretchen’s report:

Anne and Isolde,
I investigated your complaint concerning a milky discharge flowing from the Bennington outfall. Tri-State Ice Management, LLC is under county contract to operate the Silver Spring ice rink. Last week, they dismantled the ice rink and washed the area. Underneath the ice rink, there is a layer of crushed limestone which is collected and reused. They covered the drain with synthetic fiber filter before pressure washing the area. Apparently, the filter was not sufficient. I have spoken with Tri-State Ice Management and they will use a vacuum truck in the future to remove the water and crushed limestone.
They are in violation of the Water Quality Ordinance. If you are both willing to testify in court about what you saw, I will issue the company a citation ($500 civil fine). Or I will issue them a Notice of Violation if you are not willing to testify in court.

Both Isolde and I had agreed to testify about our complaints in court. The management company admitted their guilt so that we did not have to testify.

Judicial Database case number is 2Z39882040.
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