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Hi! My name is Ben Fertig, I’m the Restoration Manager at Severn River Association (SRA). My job is to help communities improve their local environment and restore the Severn River. Good communication is really important to me. So I’ve put together this page to let you know about what’s happening with the stormwater management project in Georgetown East. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please let me know! My email is email@example.com
SRA is a 501c3 non-profit organization with experience and success at pursuing funding and project management for pollution reduction and environmental restoration. Our vision is a thriving Severn River by 2050, and our mission is to connect the people who live, work, and play on the Severn River to restore and protect it for all of our communities.
I really want your input and feedback on the project (see Project Summary below). Right now, while the project is still in its early stages, is the best opportunity to make sure to get it right. Please let me know what you think by November 12, 2023. As we get closer to a finished design, there will be less wiggle room to make changes. Once the design is 100% complete, it will be locked in and we won’t be able to make changes.
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As you’re probably already well aware, storms can cause flooding and erosion. Does something like this look familiar?
Rainfall, in combination with highly compacted soils, causes excessive ponding in the neighborhood because water is unable to infiltrate down into the ground as it would naturally. This ponding is problematic to the community because it can flood homes, erode soils, and generally be a nuisance. It’s problematic to the environment because when that ponded water does move and wind up in storm drains, it carries with it fertilizer nutrients, pet waste, and soil, and the storm drains direct these right into Back Creek without any pollution treatment at all. Nutrients sound good, right? We need nutrition after all.
Yes – but to a point.
When there are too many nutrients (either nitrogen or phosphorus), it spurs algae populations to grow out of control. Nitrogen and phosphorus are basically what’s in plant fertilizer, as many gardeners know. The algae population grows so much that it uses up all the nutrients, but then the algae ‘starve’ to death and sink to the bottom of the water. The algae then decompose and the bacteria decomposing the algae use up oxygen, creating dead zones where oxygen levels are too low for most organisms (e.g. rockfish, oysters, and crabs) to survive. Overgrowth of algae and dead zones decrease biodiversity which in turn impacts humans and other organisms that feed and rely on these aquatic organisms.
SRA water quality monitoring in the Severn River records low oxygen levels frequently during summer that indicates the presence of dead zones throughout the river. This is a problem that starts in your own backyard.
This project will decrease the stormwater runoff that contributes to these dead zones. Additionally, the projects will help curtail the flooding, erosion, and sedimentation in the community.
The primary goal of the project is to reduce flooding and ponding in the neighborhood. The secondary goal is to reduce associated erosion that brings nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution into Back Creek and the Severn River, which has been declared “impaired” under the federal Clean Water Act for these three pollutants.
The City of Annapolis has outlined a general process for restoration projects.
SRA has already helped the Georgetown East community with this process and successfully obtained funding ($35,000) from the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) to design (and if necessary, get City of Annapolis permits for) a stormwater management project to improve the flooding, erosion, and nutrient problems caused by this stormwater. The project will consist of four rain gardens, also called “micro-bioretention cells”. The design is being done by BayLand Consultants and Designers and will be completed some time between December 2023 and the end of February 2024. Your neighbor, Jenny Smeltzer, is a professional landscape architect, and she has generously volunteered her time and expertise to design the plantings of the rain gardens. Thank you Jenny!
A big shout out and thank you to the City of Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Anne Arundel County Watershed Restoration grant program for funding the design of this project!
The plantings will utilize native species. Native plants have much deeper roots than the grass species typically used in lawns. This is important because roots create spaces where water can infiltrate down into the ground, rather than staying at the surface. The plants will use the nutrients, and the soil can also act as a filter for nitrogen and phosphorus. This means that native plants are great at reducing flooding and treating stormwater pollution to Back Creek.
Figure 1. Comparison of root depths for non-native plants (left) and native plants (right). Native plants have root structures that go deeper, which also allows water to infiltrate further down into the soil. Note that Fescue Grass, commonly used for lawns, has the shortest root structure.
Design is a great first step. Now, we want to make these rain gardens a reality. While the design is being worked on, SRA is busy pursuing funding for implementation. We are seeking funding to create the four rain gardens from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Chesapeake and Coastal Grants Gateway. SRA will write and submit the proposal to DNR. If SRA’s application is unsuccessful, SRA will look for other sources of funding to build this project. Or, we can always try again next year. A ‘no’ is not final or forever.
SRA wants to make sure that the project is something that the community will enjoy (in addition to all the great environmental benefits). Keep in mind that, as with so many things in life, there are trade-offs to consider. We want to understand what you value so the project will reflect those values. So, right now we want your feedback, especially while the project is still in its early stages. Now is the best opportunity to make sure to get it right. Please let me know what you think of the concept plan below by November 12, 2023. You can email me any time, firstname.lastname@example.org
Figure 2. Concept design plan showing the locations and shapes of the four rain gardens. Ex. = existing. Pr. = proposed. Note: there are three existing trees that are proposed to be removed (between buildings B-5 and B-6, between buildings B-7 and B-1, and near building B-4). How do you feel about this?
Figure 3. Existing conditions of soil infiltration tests and the locations of underground utilities. Soils were tested at three locations (circles with black & white squares in them). If you squint real hard you might be able to read the results in the lower right corner which indicate there is silty sand near the surface and it becomes more clayey deeper down. Clay soils don’t let water percolate down, so groundwater sits in the soil above, which leads to the ponding that you see when it rains.
Community support is critical to a successful grant proposal. Specifically, there are several ways you can choose to support this project. Any and all are appreciated!
If you are interested in participating in any of the ways above, please reach out to SRA’s Restoration Manager, Ben Fertig: email@example.com
View photo gallery HERE