Newsletter – May 2023

Preserving the C&O Canal!

President’s Letter by Barbara Brown

Congratulations to Joe Reed, P.E. on receiving the 2022 Federal Engineer of the Year award for the National Park Service given by the National Society of Professional Engineers.  For the last three years, Joe has served as engineering lead stationed at the C&O Canal National Historical Park.  One of his projects has been working on preserving and updating the 1,015 foot Log Wall on the Canal, originally constructed from 1828 to 1831. Go to the meetings page for a PDF of his presentation on February 8, 2023.  The work on the C&O Canal is long overdue.  We must be patient with the inconvenience as they struggle to update the Canal to accommodate the thousands of people who use it — from hikers, paddlers, bikers, campers, climbers, fishermen, historians, and visitors to the lock houses and the Great Falls.  The 184.5 mile long Park is central to the health of the Potomac River.

The National Park Service has provided an update to the status of one of their very large projects: Stabilize Drylaid Stone Wall at Mile Marker 11 (Log Wall).  Follow this link to read all about it:

The downstream portion of the drylaid stone retaining wall
that is part of the project (towpath at top of wall).
NPS | C&O Canal NHP Engineering Services Team (Reed)

Time to Ditch Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers

Submitted by Carol Van Dam Falk

It’s no fun clearing tons of leaves from our yards and trying to avoid the tedious work of raking them into piles, then hoisting them into containers for disposal, but there is a huge environmental price to be paid for using gas-powered leaf blowers.  Several states have considered banning gas-powered blowers; more than 100 cities and towns have enacted bans on the product.  Not surprisingly, California recently announced a gas-powered leaf blower ban to be enacted in 2024.

A bill to do just that was yanked at the last minute in Montgomery County this year.  Bill 18-22 would have prohibited the sale and use of gas-powered blowers by a certain date and would have authorized a grant program to partially offset the cost of replacing the product with an electric leaf blower.

Gas-powered blowers emit hydrocarbons at rates up to nine times higher than those generated by electric blowers. It’s estimated that using a commercial leaf blower for one hour emits as much pollution as driving a 2016 Toyota Camry from D.C. to Miami.  The problem lies in the two-cycle engine which burns a mixture of oil and gas unlike the 4-cycle engines in cars which only burn gas.

That’s not to mention the noise pollution with engine-powered blowers which bother humans and critters alike.  Some of the most powerful ones exceed 112 decibels*, which can cause hearing damage in just one minute.  It’s time we and the landscaping companies switch to electric leaf blowers and urge our communities to ban gas-powered blowers.

* Noise is measured in units of sound pressure levels called decibels using A-weighted sound levels (dBA).  The A-weighted sound levels closely match the perception of loudness by the human ear.  Decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale which means that a small change in the number of decibels results in a huge change in the amount of noise and the potential damage to a person’s hearing. 

Typical A-Weighted Sound Levels:

30-40 dBA – Soft Whisper at 2 meters

              50 dBA – Urban Residence

              60 dBA – Conversation at 1 meter

              70-80 dBA – Vacuum Cleaner at 3 meters

              80-90 dBA – Heavy Truck at 15 meters

              90-100 dBA – Jackhammer at 15 meters

              110 dBA – Dance Club

              120-130 dBA– Jet Takeoff at 100 meters

             140 dBA – Threshold of Pain


The election of the WMCCA Officers and Board of Directors will occur at our May 10th General Meeting.  The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of Officers and Directors to the membership for a vote.  Nominations may also be made from the floor.

President:  SUSANNE LEE                                                                  

Immediate past President:  BARBARA BROWN             

President Elect:  GINNY BARNES                

Secretary:  KATHY PETITT


Newsletter:  NANCY MADDEN

Nominees for a two-year term: CAROL VAN DAM FALK, THEODORA SCARATO

To serve 2nd Year of their two-year term (no action needed): KEN BAWER


VIRTUAL WMCCA Meeting May 10, 2023 – 7:30 p.m.

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter

P.O. Box 59335, Potomac, MD  20854-9335

President – Barbara Brown:

Website: – Thomas Fahey,   Newsletter Editor – Nancy Madden