The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) received six National Association of Counties (NACo) Awards of Excellence in 2021 for its innovative programs in the areas of County Resilience: Infrastructure, energy and sustainability; Civic education and public information; and information technology.
Since 1970, the annual NACo Awards of Excellence have recognized innovations from county governments and are awarded in 18 different categories that reflect the comprehensive services provided by counties, including financial management, county administration, technology information, health and civic engagement.
“The fact that the Montgomery County Environmental Protection Department has received six NACo Achievement Awards is a testament to the innovative, creative and engaging programs and policies they create and implement,” said Marc Elrich, director of the county. “Our county’s achievements in the fight against climate change are among the most aggressive and progressive in the country. I am very happy and grateful that DEP is recognized as a national leader in sustainable development.
DEP director Adam Ortiz said his department continues to implement innovative programs that aim to help the county meet its environmental goals.
“The NACo awards program recognizes progressive county government initiatives that strengthen services to residents,” said Ortiz, director of DEP. “We are very proud of our DEP staff who have continued to innovate and serve our residents and businesses in Montgomery County throughout this most difficult year.”
According to a county press release:
The DEP has been recognized for the following programs:
- Watershed Restoration Adequacy Mapping Model / Tool and Equity Assessment Mapping Tool: Stream Restoration Adequacy Assessment Cards, Adequacy of Stormwater Management and Equity geographically target watershed restoration projects where they would have maximum impact by addressing a broad combination of programmatic objectives. DEP has created a dedicated web page to explain the purpose of the maps, how the maps were developed, how to use the maps, including a link to the web mapping application.
- ESD Public Maintenance Program: The public maintenance program maintains existing stormwater management best practices on public property and in rights-of-way throughout the county, including plant bioretention and rain gardens. The practices help slow stormwater runoff from paved surfaces. Inlets, plants and soils work together to filter sediment and pollutants before they enter the storm sewer system and local waterways.
- Montgomery Energy Connection and Alcohol Beverage Services: LED Campaign Partnership & Libations: Montgomery Energy Connection (MEC) is a county program created to provide residents with personalized education on energy efficiency, program availability and opportunities for assistance. The program, managed by the Department of Environmental Protection, involved a partnership with Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) in October 2020 to launch the “LED and Libations Campaign”. October is Energy Action Month, and the targeted outreach program has been launched to reach residents wherever they shop. Since ABS locations were one of the few locations in the county open during the COVID-19 health crisis, the partnership has benefited residents by providing low-energy (LED) light bulbs at no additional cost. The DEL and Libations campaign was launched in all 26 county-owned liquor stores. More than 1,300 LED bulbs have been distributed to customers purchasing alcoholic products made in Maryland to encourage reduced energy use while supporting local Maryland liquor makers. A 704% increase in sales of small products made in Maryland was seen in ABS stores compared to October of the previous year. This unique partnership helped educate local residents about energy efficiency in an unlikely location.
- Improving Customer and Staff Experience Through Technology Upgrades at Montgomery County Transfer Station: Technology upgrades at the transfer station have increased efficiency to provide better and faster customer service at the point of sale . It has improved security oversight on the large campus and allowed the county to be proactive in preventing incidents rather than reacting when incidents do occur. The fiber backbone, along with third-party failover network infrastructure, ensures business continuity even in the event of a county network failure. The 30-year-old waste site is now a cutting-edge technology hub that uses upgrades to improve the customer experience and provide preventative safety measures.
- Curbside Recycle Right Program: Montgomery County’s “Recycle Right” campaign improves the quality of recycling by decreasing contamination and increasing recycling by single family residents, using an effective blend of education, training and enforcement to change behaviors, as shown by measurements and data. Montgomery County is responsible for the collection of recyclable materials using a double-flow recycling system from more than 220,000 single-family homes in non-municipal parts of the county. Over time, there had been an increase in the level of contamination (non-recyclable materials) that residents were putting in their recycling bins. Contaminants (unacceptable items) should be separated from acceptable recyclables at the county recycling center and then disposed of as waste. The problem required additional efforts to resolve it, reducing the recycling center’s ability to process and sort recyclable materials. It also forces the county to pay for and export materials it cannot process on its own to a private recycling facility for processing. This has reduced the amount of high-quality recyclable materials the county markets and sells to manufacturers for use in making new products from recyclable materials. The Recycle Right initiative includes basic sorting and multiple measurements of materials collected from single-family households; visual inspections of materials in recycling bins for recycling; labeling to identify contaminants inappropriately placed in recycling bins; education and awareness on appropriate recycling; and sorting and measuring results. The Recycle Right initiative has significantly and significantly reduced the contamination of recyclable materials.
Planet Montgomery Senior Family Edition. DEP has been a major contributor throughout the year to NACo’s award-winning multi-department program. Senior Planet Montgomery offers online courses for residents 55 and older on a variety of topics that can improve everyday life. Among the DEP-structured courses were some that explained easy ways to save money by being more energy efficient at home.
Read the full press release.