Projects at col­lege aim to re­duce storm runoff

Sunday Star - - LOCAL - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

— 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.

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