Restoration at Lake Marion

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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 Lake Marion restoration project. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please let me know! My email is ben@severnriver.org 

The short version of the project is that Lake Marion has filled in with sediment, the embankment is structurally compromised, and the concrete spillway is broken. So this project will excavate sediments in Lake Marion, remove and replace the embankment, and remove the concrete spillway with a more natural-looking series of rocky pools of water that will convey water to Severn Run. The project is funded from multiple sources. Details are below!

Click on any picture to make it bigger or to download.

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. 

Project Partners

Project Origination

Lake Marion is the very beginning (“headwaters”) of the Severn River. It was established as a stormwater lake in the 1970s. Stormwater from the Provinces Community flows into the lake. When it fills up and overflows, water travels along a concrete spillway into the Severn Run, which then flows into the Severn River and then into Chesapeake Bay. 

Due to its age, there are several reasons the existing stormwater management infrastructure needs to be updated. 

  1. Over the last 50+ years, stormwater has brought sediments to Lake Marion. It has done its job and kept those sediments from entering Severn Run. But this means it has been nearly entirely filled up. The accumulated sediments need to be dredged and removed. 
  2. The embankment that dams up Lake Marion on the east side is no longer up to code. Trees and other vegetation have grown in the embankment, which is problematic, because the roots will threaten the structural integrity of the embankment. So the embankment needs to be replaced.
  3. The concrete spillway has cracked in many places, so water does not get shunted to Severn Run, and instead increases erosion. 

Figure 1. Trees and other vegetation growing through the existing embankment, threatening its structural integrity.

Figure 2. The concrete spillway has become severely damaged and cracked in several places, necessitating its replacement. A Step Pool Stormwater Conveyance will replace the spillway, transporting stormwater while also filtering out pollutants and improving aesthetics with a more natural looking appearance. 

What’s the Big Deal About Sediments and Erosion, Anyway?

Great question! 

As you’re probably already well aware, storms can cause flooding and erosion. Does something like this look familiar?

Figure 3. Stormwater runoff example 

When water runs downhill it carries sediments. When originally built, Lake Marion was 8 to 10 feet deep, depending where in the lake. Over time, sediments were trapped in the lake and the lake has filled up. Today, Lake Marion is only 8 to 18 inches deep! 

Because the lake has become so shallow, the water temperature has warmed up, which poses problems for fish that thrive in cooler waters. 

Stormwater dissolves nitrogen. The sediments it carries also bring phosphorus. Stormwater carries the nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients with it, down to the Severn and the Chesapeake Bay. 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 uses up oxygen, creating dead zones where oxygen levels are too low for most organisms (e.g. rockfish, oysters, and crabs) to survive. Decomposing algae can also smell awful. 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. 

Because Lake Marion waters are fairly stagnant, it can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Project Goals and Environmental Benefits

  • Improve the water quality of Lake Marion
  • Reduce sediment and pollutants and deliver cooler, cleaner water to the Severn Run (and ultimately to the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay).
  • Improve the aquatic and wildlife habitat
  • Reduce the mosquito population
  • Improve the aesthetics of the community park and lake

Project Summary

Provinces Community Association (PCA) has worked with many partners to bring in multiple sources of funding to be able to achieve the goals above by:

  1. Excavating the accumulated sediments, 
  2. Removing the existing embankment and replacing it with a more structurally sound embankment and bring it into compliance with current regulations,
  3. Replacing the broken concrete spillway with a ‘Step Pool Stormwater Conveyance’ (SPSC). 

The SPSC will convey spillover water from Lake Marion to the Severn Run through a series of pools that will slow the water down and allow it to soak into the ground. This will prevent soil erosion and filter out the harmful nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients before the water reaches Severn Run. It will also reduce the temperature of the stormwater, which will be important for fish and other aquatic life that survives better in cooler conditions. 

PCA was awarded a FY2021 grant for $98,750 from the Local Development Council, which provides grants to benefit communities within a three mile radius of the Live! Casino. This grant was used to hire BayLand Consultants and Designers (BayLand) to:

  1. Perform a feasibility study
  2. Create an engineering design plan
  3. Apply for permits 

Renovation Plan Overview

  • Excavate the sediment from the lake
  • Replace the concrete spillway
  • Install filters to prevent future sedimentation
  • Install a weir wall to control the discharge rate from the lake
  • Reconstruct the embankment to meet current regulations

Project Funding

Estimated $4M in construction costs required. PCA has put together multiple funding sources:

Grant funding

  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) – $1,617,000
  • Maryland Legislature – Maryland Legislative Bond Initiative – $250,000
  • Local Development Council (LDC) – $500,000

Other funding

  • Anne Arundel County Watershed Protection and Restoration – $1,500,000
  • Provinces Civic Association, Inc. – $10,000
  • Community donations – $4,680

Conceptual Design Plan

Figure 4. Conceptual design of the project incorporating all the different project components

The completed project will have a number of components to it:

  1. Near Citadel Dr. there will be an inflow channel to convey stormwater from the surrounding area to Lake Marion. 
  2. The inflow channel will lead to a 5.5 feet deep forebay to hold water in reserve before letting it spill to the main deeper lake area. There will also be another forebay, 3.5 feet deep, on the north side.
  3. The deeper lake area will be excavated to a depth of 8 feet, provided sufficient funds to excavate that far down.
  4. Along the sides of the deep pool there will be a vegetated bench that will help absorb nitrogen and phosphorus and promote “denitrification”, which is a natural process that returns nitrogen to the air (Earth’s atmosphere is actually ~80% nitrogen). 
  5. The embankment will be removed and replaced in stages.
  6. The existing concrete spillway will be removed and replaced with a step pool conveyance system – a series of small pools separated by rock weirs and rock cascades that proceed lower down and convey the water to the Severn Run.
  7. Area surrounding the step pool conveyance system will be planted with native “grow don’t mow” vegetation that will grow somewhat taller than traditional lawns. 
  8. There will be a drivable grass access road for maintenance purposes. Permeable pavers will be used. Permeable pavers allow vehicle passage while still letting water infiltrate down into the ground, where pollutants can be filtered naturally by soil and biological processes. 

Timeline

The County grading permit is complete! Construction can begin sooner than expected! 

Construction to begin approximately February/March 2024

  • Embankment demolition and reconstruction
  • Installation of stream and outfall
  • Lake Marion excavation

Construction to be completed approximately February/March 2025.

Current Progress

To receive updates on the Lake Marion Restoration Project sign up for our Provinces Email Distribution for Community News: PCA.Severn@hotmail.com

This page will be kept updated or check out the community website: www.ProvincesSevern.org 

Ways You Can Help!

  • Do not dump anything down the storm drains
  • Keep storm drains in front of your house clean from debris
  • Pick up after your pets

Community Concerns

Effects on the Community During Construction

Construction will be happening, and yes, it will be noisy during the day. There will be chainsaws buzzing, big trucks, and excavation machines making a racket. The trucks will make and use a temporary road and areas will be set up for storing construction materials and topsoil. Even Lake Marion is taking a break, getting temporarily drained. If you need to get through please use the sidewalks available on Quebec Street and Citadel Drive. It’s a bit chaotic, but it’s all part of the process as the place gets a makeover. We promise it will be temporary, and the benefits once it is completed will be worth it. Thank you for your patience!

Community Questions

General Questions

Why is this project happening?

  • The existing embankment is in violation of the current code, necessitating reconstruction. If this project were not underway, the community would face a citation and would be responsible for the cost of replacement on its own. Therefore, the project not only addresses code compliance but also prevents potential financial burdens on the community.

When will construction happen?

  • Construction will start around June 1, 2024, and will last about 10 months, with an estimated completion some time April to June 2025. Excavation of the lake will be done during winter of 2024/2025. Landscaping will occur in April 2025. 

Will there be construction noise 24 hours a day? 

  • No. Construction will occur Mondays through Fridays from 7am to 5pm. There may be a few rare exceptions to make up for weather-related delays. 

Will the park itself be closed?

  • Yes, and there will be orange blazes to keep people out of the active construction area.

Will the project add or improve existing amenities, e.g. park benches, basketball court, etc.? 

  • Right now this is beyond the scope of the project, though perhaps these could be addressed in the future. PCA is open to suggestions!

Once construction is complete, what types of maintenance will be required and who will pay for it?

  • PCA is entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with Anne Arundel County. PCA will be responsible for mowing, trash removal, mulching, weeding, ensuring tree and plant survival, etc. Larger maintenance (e.g. replacing rocks, forebay cleaning, patching erosion, etc.) will be covered by the contractor for the first year and the County thereafter.

Where can I find out more about the project? 

  • There are two websites that are regularly updated:
    • Provincessevern.org is the community website that will have the link to the project website hosted by SRA.

Questions About Sediment Excavation

What happens if there is trash in the sediment to be excavated?

  • Ultimately, it is not feasible to pull out or sort trash from the sediment during excavation and hauling. Further, the designs do not include a permanent trash filter. These tend to clog quickly and require ongoing maintenance. Over the long-term, maintaining trash filters becomes either a burden to volunteers or an expense that requires funding indefinitely. The best solution is to make sure that trash and litter – including pet waste – do not enter Lake Marion and Severn Run in the first place. 

What will happen to the sediment excavated from the lake?

  • The sediment is silty and has a mayonnaise consistency so it can’t be reused and will go to a landfill. 

To excavate the lake, where does the water from the lake go?

  • The project will reroute water down the Severn Run and divert incoming water to the same course. The embankment construction is planned to take place in sections, employing a phased approach. For each section, a smaller temporary embankment will be initially constructed to ensure a clear and dry construction area. Subsequently, the permanent embankment section for that segment will be removed and reinstalled. Once the permanent embankment is securely in place, the temporary embankment section will be dismantled, and the process will seamlessly transition to the next section. This sequential methodology ensures an organized and efficient construction process while effectively managing water flow throughout the project.

Where is the stockpile of excavated material going to be?

  • Efficient material management is crucial, and it is in everyone’s interest to minimize stockpiling duration. Following excavation, sediment will be promptly and effectively transported away. To maintain optimal stormwater management, the swale will be consistently kept open, and water will be redirected to flow around the designated stockpile area. This approach ensures that the process remains streamlined, minimizing any potential environmental impact associated with prolonged material stockpiling.

Questions About the Embankment

Will the embankment still be the same height?

  • According to the engineering plans, the embankment will be about 6 inches lower than it is currently. 

What will happen to the pathway that leads to the embankment?

  • This area will be used for access to the embankment and hauling materials to/from the site. It will be replaced with a permeable yet stable material to allow driveable access with grass. This will continue to be used by the County for maintenance of a sanitary sewer main. 

Questions About Plants

What will happen to vegetation along the perimeter of the lake?

  • The area on the far side of the basketball court will remain undisturbed. To safeguard trees within the work zone, an arborist will perform root pruning to prevent damage. Trees experiencing 50-70% root zone impact may need to be removed and replaced elsewhere.

Why are trees and bushes on the embankment being removed?

  • Embankments must be maintained as a cleared area so that roots do not compromise its structural integrity. Some trees will also need to be cleared to construct the spillway, but these will mostly be replanted with maples and oaks – species that provide additional biodiversity benefits. 

Are there plans to add additional trees in the park?

  • The primary area to add trees is near the outfall though some others in other areas. If additional trees are desired, it would have to come from an additional funding source once this construction is complete. 

Will this project reduce the amount of algal growth in the lake?

  • While this project will contribute, it won’t address the issue entirely. The significance of picking up pet waste cannot be overstated in reducing algae growth.

Questions About Animals

Will Lake Marion be stocked with fish?

  • In the past, the lake was stocked by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, but this is not within the scope of the current project. When construction is complete, SRA will explore opportunities for stocking fish.

What is the impact on wildlife during the project?

  • If you notice turtles in the construction zone, please contact The Terrapin Institute, (410) 745-8359, who will collect turtles temporarily and relocate them until the work is completed. 

Will stagnant water in the Step Pool Stormwater Conveyance (SPSC) become a concern for breeding mosquitoes?

  • No. The SPSC is designed and built in a way that water will not stagnate in it. Water will seep into the ground within 48 hours and excess water will flow down to the Severn Run. Mosquitos are more likely to breed in toys or buckets that are left out for too long than in the SPSC. Closer to the start of the Severn Run, in the lower pools, it may stay somewhat wetter a little longer than 48 hours due to the higher water table there. However, we anticipate that any mosquito larvae that do show up there will be eaten by dragonflies. 

Photos 

Click here to see our Google Photos photo album.

Presentations

LMRP Community Meeting Slide show.pptx