QA OKs funding for stormwater projects at Chesapeake
CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners approved the dispersal of money during its Tuesday, July 26, meeting to aid in the design and construction of multiple Watershed Implementation Plan projects to take place at Chesapeake College.
The Midshore Riverkeepers Conservancy, based out of Easton, has received grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund for various aspects of the 10 projects. As of July, MRC has raised more than $1 million in grant funding. With the $292,587 the commissioners unanimously voted to approve to assist with nutrient and sediment runoff, all 10 of the projects will be constructed.
The various projects will create six biorentions, one wetland, two forest buffers and a regenerative storm conveyance system, also known as a step pool, around the campus, located at 1000 College Circle, Wye Mills. The county money will fund the design and permitting phase of the wetland project, the six bioretentions and two buffers. The money will also fund the construction of two bioretentions and the tree plantings for the forest buffers.
In 2014, MRC completed a watershed assessment of the Wye River and found opportunities for multiple restoration and retrofit projects aimed at reducing nutrient and sediment pollution entering the waterway. Three project ideas that came from that assessment were constructing a ditch retrofit and bioswale at the Wye Ferry Landing area, wetland creation at the Kudner Property and major stormwater and restoration projects on Chesapeake College’s campus.
In April, the MRC in conjunction with the DNR and the Chesapeake Bay Trust held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion the of a 4.5 acre wetland created to treat nutrients and sediments from runoff from more than 80 acres of farm land at the county-owned Kudner Property, 961 Bennett Point Road.
In 2015, MRC collaborated with Chesapeake College and created a master plan of stormwater management projects that could be implemented throughout the campus. The group aims to complete the projects by mid2018.
Kristin Junkin, MRC director of operations, told the commissioners that the campus, built in the 1960s, “reflects the engineering and environmental thinking of that time” in terms of stormwater infrastructure. As the college is located on a “very ecologically sensitive parcel of land” at the headwaters of the Wye East River, Junkin said all of the projects will address nutrient and sediment runoff.
In total, the projects will reduce 17.7 tons of sediment, 310 pounds of nitrogen and 33 pounds of phosphorus per year as well as reduce 132,000 gallons of stormwater runoff through the bioretention projects.
Of the 10 projects, Junkin said the main priority project was the creation of the RSC system, which was fully funded prior to the presentation with the commissioners. The second priority, she said, was the creation of a wetland near the water tower on the campus. Funding for the construction of the wetland was provided by the Department of Natural Resources trust fund but survey, design, permitting and management was not.
“There’s an area where a [stormwater] pipe discharges directly into a field and we’re going to build a wetland that will produce sheet flow so that the water separates and flows gently down the hillside instead of in the channel that is causing erosion,” Junkin said.
Greg Farley, director of the college’s Center for Leadership and Environmental Education, said these projects “fire on a number of cylinders for us” as they help the school meet its educational mission.
Farley said projects like the ones proposed provide opportunities for students to learn throughout the building process. “We’re anxious to sort of employ the campus as a learning laboratory for those aims,” Farley said.
Using the campus as a “learning laboratory,” Farley said the school has initiatives to get students out of the classroom and “into the real world.” He said the various projects will help students learn steps from the planning process to the physical construction of the projects.
“All this also helps us meet our strategic goal of better environmental stewardship,” Farley said. “...We want to play our part in the effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, and that again becomes a teachable moment for us.”
The commissioners set aside money in its budgets from FY2014 ($150,000), FY2015 ($150,000) and FY2016 ($1 million) for WIP projects. Commissioner Jim Moran said the county is looking for two-to-one or three-to-one matches for money it puts into WIP projects with other organizations.
“This is the vision that we had, was leveraging our money, the county’s taxpayers’ money,” Moran said. “...I think this is one of those projects that meets that goal.”