By Nancy Jones

You could improve the quality of your drinking water just by answering the telephone.

During early March, many northern Baltimore County residents will be asked to participate in a phone survey about stream buffers. But don’t worry, you will not be asked for money, just a little of your time to answer a few questions.

And a few moments spent now on the phone could help ensure quality drinking water later, say local environmental supporters hoping to talk with you soon.

The survey is a collaborative effort of local agricultural and conservation groups, led by Prettyboy Watershed Alliance. And the reason for the advance notice of the impending inquiry, say organizers, is to boost the response rate which for a typical phone survey is usually low.

Since the northern Baltimore County area being targeted is so sparsely populated, organizers say they are worreid they won’t hit the magic number of respondents needed for the survey to be statistcally valid, about 400 households.

“We need help and want your opinions,” said Nancy Shaper, president of the Prettyboy Watershed Alliance. “You may get called to participate and it will be better for our streams and watershed if you do.”

Lack of understanding
The phone survey is a way for the groups to solicit residents’ advice and help in getting landowners to enhance their properties to keep their streams and drinking water clean. The survey will ask owners with streams on their property to give their thoughts about the streams, streamside plantings or buffers, and about the current programs and incentives in place that help with the cost of planting buffers.

“Healthy streams are those with buffers. There’s a widespread interest in keeping the rural watershed healthy,” said Shaper. “But there’s a lack of understanding of the importance of streamside plantings.”

The groups, which include the Prettyboy Watershed Alliance, the Sparks-Glencoe Community Planning Council (SGCPC), the Valleys Planning Council, the Baltimore County Soil Conservation District, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Services and Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, want to identify what are the barriers to getting the message out about the importance of buffers.

Armed with knowledge, better outreach efforts can be directed to increase stream buffers in the area and improve drinking water quality…..

Read the article in its original format  cleaner drinking water 3.2011