Rain barrel owners should winterize their barrel when temperatures are expected to fall below freezing for more than a few nights.
Take the following steps to winterize your rain barrel:
- Disconnect your rain barrel from the down spout, making sure to redirect the flow from the downspout away from your home.
- Store the barrel in an enclosed space like a garage, shed or basement if available.
- If you store the barrel outside, flip it upside-down so water doesn't freeze inside the barrel. Consider placing a brick or other heavy object on top of the barrel to keep it from blowing over.
Rain barrels are one component of the City's RainScapes Rewards Program. The program is designed to help residential owners improve stormwater runoff conditions on their property by utilizing approved stormwater management techniques. Projects are designed to slow rainwater runoff and reduce the amount of stormwater entering local streams, increase groundwater supply, and reduce chemical and nutrient pollutants entering local streams.
The RainScapes program puts money back into the pockets of residents who install rain barrels, plant trees or install conservation landscapes. Learn how you can earn money for improving the environment by visiting: www.rockvillemd.gov/environment/watersheds/rainscapes.html.
Rockville residents are reminded that the State of Maryland tightened the laws about handheld cell phone use and texting while driving a motor vehicle as of Oct. 1.
Restrictions include the following:
- Text messaging and electronic messaging (email) are prohibited for all drivers (primary offense)
- Handheld cell phone use is prohibited for all drivers (secondary offense)
- All cell phone use including handheld and hands-free is prohibited for novice drivers, those under 18 years old and/or with learner's permits or Provisional Driver's licenses (secondary offense)
A primary offense means that a police officer does not need another reason to stop a driver. A secondary offense means that an officer must have observed another driving violation to stop a driver.
Drivers stopped for using a handheld cell phone may be fined between $40 and $100.
Calls placed to 9-1-1, ambulance, hospital, fire, or law enforcement agencies are allowed, as are calls made by emergency and law enforcement personnel.
New Bag Tax Effective Jan. 1
A new Montgomery County law regarding disposable bags will take effect January 1, 2012. The law places a five-cent charge on each paper or plastic carryout bag provided by retail establishments in the county to customers at the point of sale, pickup or delivery.
Retailers retain 1 cent of each 5 cents for the bags they sell to a customer.
The legislation is designed to reduce the use of disposable bags by encouraging the use of reusable bags. The legislation will help Montgomery County meet State-mandated MS4 stormwater permit requirements, including reducing litter pollution in the Anacostia River and the commitment to a trash free Potomac River.
The revenues from the bag tax will be deposited into the county's Water Quality Protection Charge (WQPC) fund. The revenues are expected to shift the burden of litter cleanup costs from public taxpayers to consumers who can avoid the five-cent charge by bringing reusable bags.
Montgomery County has established a website with links to information to help residents and affected businesses: 1) understand how disposable bags affect the environment; 2) know how and when the carryout bag charge will be applied; and 3) consider available reusable bag options to avoid the tax entirely. The website is available at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/bag.