Projects at college aim to reduce storm runoff
— Four years ago, the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy began meeting with Chesapeake College officials to discuss how to treat stormwater runoff issues throughout the campus. With funding from multiple sources for various aspects of the plan, construction is underway for 14 projects aimed directly at aiding in a healthy Wye River and Chesapeake Bay.
On Wednesday, June 28, figures in the environmental protection field, Chesapeake College representatives and elected government officials gathered at the college in front of the construction of a new regenerative storm conveyance system, known as a step pool, to speak about how the projects will not only help the college, but the surrounding area.
Kristin Junkin, director of operations at Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, said when the step pool, wetland restoration near the tennis courts, three large buffer plantings and nine bioretention projects are completed, it will collectively reduce the amount of nitrogen flowing into the river by 400 pounds each year. She said the amount of sediment going into the river will be reduced by 19 tons per year.
Junkin said the overall project is vital because the land where Chesapeake College sits has more than 100 acres of land surrounding it, passing stormwater through the campus and into the headwaters of the Wye River.
“We hope we are going to make a big impact,” Junkin said.
Last July, when Junkin spoke to the Queen Anne’s County commissioners about potential nutrient and sediment runoff projects at the college, the commission unanimously approved $292,587 to aid in the creation of multiple watershed implementation plan projects. Funding from Queen Anne’s County matched the amount the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy received in a Chesapeake Atlantic and Coastal Bays Trust Fund grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Prior to receiving money from the Department of Natural Resources and Queen Anne’s County, the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy completed a watershed assessment of the Wye River in 2014 that was funded through a Chesapeake Bay Trust grant. That assessment and its data opened opportunities for the environmental group and Chesapeake College to look into multiple storm runoff projects on the campus.
“It’s really up to us nowadays at the county level, at the state level, to really take the leadership role in protecting our rivers, protecting our Chesapeake Bay and our environment,” Junkin said. “I think these 14 projects we’re doing on this campus are a wonderful example of what local talent, local leadership and just local partnerships can achieve for the environment.”
Gregory Farley, Chesapeake College director of the Center for Leadership in Environmental Education, said it was “absolutely amazing” that a search for learning opportunities years ago “has turned into a search for partnerships and has turned into some real progress.”
Farley said part of his job is to translate projects into learning opportunities for the students. He said faculty are working with him to design courses, such as restoration ecology, to fully “capitalize on a lot of the watershed work that’s going on all over the campus.”
Other initiatives for clean energy on campus include the development of an electric vehicle transformation program and a solar television installation program, Farley said. He said faculty is working to see what types of equipment is needed for data logging to see how the watershed and wildlife responds to the completed projects.
“We are really trying to lead this region into tomorrow where these things are what happens her eon the shore, and what the shore does is lead the dialogue in these kinds of things,” Farley said.
The group aims to have the projects completed by mid-2018.
Follow Mike Davis on Twitter @mike_kibaytimes.
People influential in the 14 projects to aid in stormwater runoff and other environmental issues at Chesapeake College gather to celebrate the work that has been started during a ceremony on June 28. PHOTOS BY MIKE DAVIS
A regenerative storm conveyance system, known as a step pool, is being created at Chesapeake College.