BERLIN — As rain battered the outside the Town Hall building and many areas of the town were already well underwater, the Town Council accepted an offer from JoAnne Throwe of the Environmental Finance Center, a University of Maryland-based program that helps communities identify ways to deal with stormwater issues.
Throwe convinced town officials to accept the free help her organization provides in developing the soon-to-be requisite stormwater management plan. She said the town was recommended to her by the Town Creek Association, a nonprofit organization that has supported the town in its wastewater treatment projects.
“Berlin will be the first community to work with us in the storm water unit feasibility study,” she said. According to Throwe, the EFC will develop recommendations that would fit the community and stay in touch with the community step by step as they go through the process.
“Any recommendation I make in the end, you can take it or you can not take it,” she said, adding that she’d do the work faithfully either way.
Throwe said the town would not have to pay for the work, but that she would occasionally require the time of Tony Carson, the town administrator and Jane Kreiter, the water resources manager. By interviewing them about the town’s technical needs, she and her team should be able to come up with a plan that will be both practical for and relevant to the town.
Mayor Gee Williams tied the recent work on spray irrigation to the need for stormwater management. In addition to the town needing help in dealing with the significant flooding, he said a better storm water plan would further reduce the town’s nutrient affect on the Newport Bay.
He also pointed out that, unlike Ocean City — a town that also had the benefit of the Environmental Finance Center’s help and recommendations — what the group learns in Berlin will be more applicable to other towns in the state.
“Ocean City is unique,” Williams said. “Berlin could be a model for other towns [in the state].”
Although the council will not be bound by the recommendations, Williams said they would be able to use them as a plan for getting ahead of state mandates that will eventually require a town response.
“Personally, I think this might be a new landmark turning point for the town,” Williams said.
The council accepted the offer and set Throwe to work. Her final report is expected next June.