Stormwater Management in Olde Severna Park

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Hi! My name is Ben Fertig, I’m the Restoration Manager here 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 stormwater management projects in Olde Severna Park. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please let me know! My email is ben@severnriver.org. Click on any picture to make it bigger or download.

Project Origination

Excessive runoff is causing erosion and sedimentation into Sullivan Cove and the Severn River. The polluted runoff causes algae blooms and dead zones in Round Bay and the River. In other words, the runoff lowers water quality in the Severn River. 

Severn River Association (SRA) is helping the Olde Severna Park community to pursue funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to design and implement stormwater management projects to improve the problems caused by this runoff. SRA will work with Olde Severna Park to secure grant money to fund a project design and construction and help manage the project. SRA’s 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. This project directly aligns with our mission. 

What’s the Big Deal About Stormwater, Anyway?

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

When water runs downhill it carries sediments (to which phosphorus ‘sticks’), dissolves nitrogen and carries these 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. 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 going on in your 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. 

Project Summary

The goal of this effort is to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution associated with stormwater that drains and flows into Sullivan Cove and the Severn River, which has been declared “impaired” under the Clean Water Act for these three pollutants.

SRA will work with Ecosystem Planning and Restoration (EPR) to design and implement a cutting edge stormwater management system that will reduce and treat stormwater runoff from Park Dr. to Sullivan Cove. This stormwater management project includes a Step Pool Stormwater Conveyance (SPSC) system that slows down, spreads out, and soaks in the stormwater which helps to reduce erosion of community property, clean and filter runoff, and save the Severn. The parking area will be regraded to direct SW runoff flows into the proposed SPSC. Native plants will be installed and invasive species will be removed. Potentially, speed humps on Park Dr. may further capture stormwater runoff and will be evaluated for inclusion based on water quality improvement.

SRA and EPR will solicit community feedback and input to make sure your concerns and interests are heard. 

SRA is seeking funding for this project through the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) Watershed Assistance Grant Program (WAGP). SRA will submit the proposal to CBT. If SRA’s WAGP application is unsuccessful, SRA will look for other sources of funding to design, permit, and build this project, like Maryland Department of Natural Resources Grants Gateway.

SRA’s work for the Severn, including on environmental restoration projects like this one, is only possible because of private donations from our over 500 members. Grants like this one only cover a small fraction of our costs. Every member makes an annual donation and those who give $1000 or more annually become one of our critically important major donors.

Environmental Benefits

This project will decrease the nutrient runoff in stormwater that contributes to dead zones in the Severn River. Stormwater management can improve the Severn River’s water quality so that the ecosystem can flourish. Additionally, the projects will help slow down the stormwater which can help with flooding and erosion in the community. 

Ways You Can Help!

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! 

  1. You can allow use of a portion of your land for the project.
  2. You can allow SRA and/or its contractors to access a site via your property 
  3. You can pledge to help volunteer with planting and/or maintaining native plants as part of the project’s installation.
  4. You can install a rain barrel to capture and slow down stormwater coming off your roof.
  5. You can install a rain garden on your property.
  6. Other …. There are lots of ways to be involved. If you have an idea or want to discuss, please reach out!

If you are interested in participating in any of the ways above, please reach out to SRA’s Restoration Manager, Ben Fertig: ben@severnriver.org 

Timeline

  • Summer 2023 – SRA solicited design contractors, conducted site visits with potential contractors, and with OSPIA input selected EPR as the contractor.
  • December 6, 2023 – deadline for SRA submission of proposal to Chesapeake Bay Trust
  • March-May 2024 – hear if proposal is funded. If funded, design work begins. If not, identify alternative funding source
  • November 2024 – design work completed, permit applications, begin writing proposal for construction funding
  • March 2025 – proposal submission for construction funding
  • July 2025 – hear if construction is funded, if so, construction begins
  • September 2025 – construction completed, SRA responsible for maintenance for 5 years
  • September 2030 – maintenance responsibility transfers to OSPIA

Current Progress

  • Design contractor selected
  • Proposal for design engineering to CBT is submitted. We anticipate hearing a decision about funding sometime March to May 2024

Conceptual Design Plan

Current Specifications for the Step Pool Stormwater Conveyance (SPSC):

  • Square feet to be designed: 4,130 sq ft

  • Drainage area treated: 54 acres – Note that this includes runoff being supplied from beyond the natural drainage area that enters the project site via the existing storm drain network along several streets, not just Park Dr.

  • Impervious area treated: 2.8 acres

  • Total Nitrogen Removed: 35.2 lbs of nitrogen per year

  • Total Phosphorus Removed: 5.8 lbs of phosphorus per year

  • Total Sediments Removed: 15,233 lbs of sediments per year

Potential project area and plan: A Step Pool Storm Conveyance (SPSC) with a level spreader will be installed in the area drawn in blue. Rerouting the existing stormwater pipe into the SPSC will help treat the stormwater entering the watershed.

Community Comments, Questions, and Concerns

  • Can we bring the goats back to remove invasive species?
      • Yes, great idea! We will include that in the proposal. Goats do a great job of taking down Phragmites. They may not get rid of it completely, and it may come back or regrow in a few years. But, goats are a sustainable way of minimizing the harmful effects of invasive species, and do not introduce harmful chemicals to the environment.
  • Length of time
      • Yes – requesting funding from government sources is a lengthy process! However, SRA is working on multiple restoration projects along the Severn in tandem – not only in terms of stormwater pollution reduction but also oyster repopulation, invasive removal and other types of projects as well.
  • Maintaining beach and avoiding beach flooding
      • This project will not encroach on the beach. The stormwater directed to the wetlands will be soaked up by the wetland grasses and trees, both of which move water up into the air. Water flowing through the wetlands exits through a concrete pipe that goes under the footpath and drains out into Sullivan Cove.
  • Maintaining footpath and access to the beach
      • Absolutely critical! The footpath and beach access will remain. We will take steps to minimize disruption during construction, delaying construction to the fall or other steps as needed.
  • Seagrass / submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV)
      • Seagrass is great! It provides habitat and refuge for baby fish, crabs, etc. We do not anticipate this project will impact seagrass at all. It is hard to predict exactly where/when it shows up though.
  • Other pathways down to the beach/clubhouse
    • The scope of this project does not extend to other pathways to the beach/clubhouse. 

Photos

See the photo gallery HERE

Presentations

Stormwater Management Project – Community Meeting April 11, 2023

Park Drive Project Presentation – October 10, 2023