Permit signed for Bishopville Pond project

(Sept. 20, 2013) The seemingly never-beginning Bishopville Pond project “is finally getting closer” to reality, the Worcester County Commissioners were told Tuesday.

“We got a copy of the permit from the Army Corps of Engineers,” Ed Tudor, director of the Department of Development Review and Permitting, said.

The permit authorizes the removal of the existing dam and the restoration of the stream and pond area.

Bud Church, president of the Worcester County Commissioners, signed the permit acknowledging and agreeing to its various conditions, which will be the full responsibility of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

“Yesterday was one big step,” said Roman Jesien, science coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, which is coordinating the project in cooperation with the funding agencies, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, on Wednesday. “The county signed off on it. We’re pleased with that.”

The project will improve water quality and facilitate fish passage. It will also lower the steel cofferdam and create a stable stream channel and wetland habitat. It will have no effect on the existing tidal wetland delineation and will not expand the Critical Area boundary.

The pond, usually about five acres in size, will be reduced to about three acres. Currently, the pond is looking small.

“We’ve had so little rain,” Jesien said. “The pond has lost a lot of water.”

A series of step pools and rock weirs will be constructed from the tidal segment of Buntings Branch to the nontidal segment. A portion of the pond will remain upstream from the weirs and behind a sand berm constructed adjacent to the weirs.

The stream will run beneath the bridge and into the pond and all metal sheeting will be removed from the dam, but the concrete foundation and boulders will remain and boulders have been added. The boulders have been stockpiled in readiness for the work, Jesien said, but “we are struggling with permits from the Department of the Environment. This issue is sediment control. We’re getting a lot of very minor objections.”

Those minor objections necessitate minor changes that come with reverberations, he said.

“We have to change five, six, seven or eight pages [of documents] and then they come up with another minor change,” he said. “We’re all frustrated.”

Discussion about this project began several years ago, but it kept getting delayed. One delay was the need to study whether proposed changes would have any detrimental effect on the bridge and road. Lack of funds also created a delay.

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