Stewards install bio-retention island in North East
— A bio-retention island recently installed outside North East town hall will help reduce stormwater runoff and flooding in the parking lot.
North East residents Mark Dobbins and Jim Wolford installed the island as their capstone project for the Watershed Stewards Academy, a program that works to educate and empower county residents to improve the water quality of local streams and reduce the harmful effects of polluted stormwater runoff.
The project was funded through a $4,500 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and received help from several groups including the town of North East, the Cecil County Master Gardeners and the Elk and North East Rivers Watershed Association, of which Dobbins and Wolford are president and vice president.
“We call it our capstone,
but it’s the work of a couple dozen people,” Dobbins said.
Dobbins and Wolford originally approached the town about fixing the parking lot drainage problem in August and the town has been supportive of the idea, Dobbins said. Construction didn’t start until last week, though, because it took longer than expected for the grant funding to come through, he added.
Work on the 1,200-squarefoot island started with town workers excavating an existing grassy island in the parking lot to create a roughly 3-foot deep hole. The bottom was then filled with a perforated PVC pipe and rocks followed by layers of pea gravel and soil. The island was completed on Saturday with help from the Cecil County Master Gardeners, who planted native plants to give additional help with filtration, Dobbins said.
The original grassy island already had a stormwater drain installed and this was retained in the new island because the quality of soil in the parking lot is so poor that it needs extra help to absorb all the water, Dobbins said.
The decision to tackle the stormwater problem at the town hall came after it was used as an example of poor stormwater management during a WSA class field trip, Wolford said.
“It’s also in a highly visible area,” he added. “Hopefully it will get other people thinking about similar projects they could do.”
As part of that education effort, a sign will eventually be installed in front of the bio-retention island explaining how the project works and how people can do similar, smaller-scale projects on their own properties, Dobbins said.
“We can’t solve big problems like the sediment buildup behind the Conowingo Dam, but we can all work on smaller projects that still make a difference,” Dobbins said.
A bio-retention island was installed in the North East town hall parking lot where a grassy island filled with trees and plants used to be.
A bio-retention island installed outside North East town hall will help with stormwater management in the parking lot.
Volunteers put native plants in a bio-retention island installed outside North East town hall.