Monday, May 07, 2012
Montgomery County’s Sligo Creek has been confirmed by EPA as a success story for improvements in aquatic life resulting from extensive stormwater pollution control and management in the watershed. Success Stories are used by EPA to request and justify continued funding for grant monies (known as Section 319 grants) ear marked for controlling nonpoint source pollution which carries pollutants from urban surfaces and agricultural lands into waterbodies in rainfall runoff.
Since 1989, the County has improved the stream banks down the length of the Sligo Creek, created wet ponds to capture stormwater runoff and treat it before it goes into the creek, restored pools for breeding habitat for fish and amphibians, retrofitted existing stormwater ponds by adding additional storage and retention capacity to capture rainfall runoff from more urban surfaces, and reshaped the stream channel itself by adding more meanders and curves which slows down flow and creates habitat niches for biological life. More recent investments by the County have included installations of low impact development bio-retention systems. These installations help to filter out the pollutants in stormwater runoff and help to absorb the rainfall in place through vegetation roots instead of allowing runoff to flow into gutters and into the stream conveying pollutants.
The County’s biological monitoring program has been sampling fish and other aquatic organisms in the stream for decades. Since 2000 when the fish complex found in the stream were of only four pollution-tolerant fish, steady incremental changes in the creek’s water quality and habitat opportunities have led to noticeable improvement. Today fourteen naturally sustaining fish species can be found in the creek, including some that require specialized habitat. The bioassessment done of the aquatic life in the creek shows that the overall Index of Biotic integrity scoring has improved from a “poor” rating to a “fair”rating. More details on the Sligo Creek Success Story are available on EPA’s Nonpoint Source Program Success Story Web site
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
The Arcola Avenue Green Street Project integrates curbside swales, rain gardens and curb extensions right into the street design, to treat rainfall runoff from the street. The treatment system filters water through a mixture of highly permeable soils (sand, mulch, compost), then stores the water in an underlying gravel layer from which the water percolates into groundwater.
Environmentally-sensitive design (ESD) stormwater treatment systems like this one built right into the street, are much smaller in scope and complexity than standard stormwater facilities (e.g. stormwater ponds) which require much more space than available in dense urbanized or suburbanized areas. Arcola Avenue’s stormwater treatment is not only cost-effective and controls runoff pollution, but it also helps restore Sligo Creek.
The Arcola Green Street Project integrates curbside swales, rain gardens and curb extensions along the roadway. These rain gardens, curbside swales and curb extensions are integrated between the curb and the sidewalk and occasionally the curbs were extended into the parking lanes to expand the practices and provide for additional treatment. In larger storms, excess water is treated and discharges back into the curb and gutter system or into the storm drain system. These systems ultimately improve receiving stream and watershed health by improving water quality, reducing storm runoff and recharging the water table.
The Arcola Avenue Green Street Project is located along a heavily traveled arterial road in Silver Spring, Maryland. It uses ESD practices to treat 1.85 acres of impervious uncontrolled rainfall runoff draining to Sligo Creek, a tributary of the Anacostia River. The Arcola Avenue Green Street project was initiated in March 2011 as a pilot partnership between the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (DOT). The partnership’s goal was to develop a process for constructing stormwater management practices along Montgomery County roads. The Arcola Avenue Green Street Project was originally identified as a stormwater management retrofit opportunity in the Anacostia River Restoration Plan (ARP). The ARP, completed in 2010, is a comprehensive 10-year restoration plan that identified restoration opportunities throughout the Anacostia River Watershed. The Arcola Avenue Green Street Project is one of hundreds of restoration opportunities identified in Montgomery County and is an integral part in fulfilling the overarching goal of restoring the Sligo Creek watershed.
Roadway bioretention facilities, rain gardens, and related “low impact development” or “environmental site design” projects are much smaller in scope and complexity than standard stormwater facilities. The Arcola Avenue Green Street required only twelve weeks to design, and three months to construct the 10 ESD practices. The resulting 1.85 treated acres of roadway rainfall runoff could not have been otherwise treated due to lack of available open space and real estate.
Friday, June 03, 2011
Starting January 1, 2012 all County retailers will charge customers five cents for each paper or plastic carryout bag used to take out purchases at the point of sale, or pickup or delivery. The nominal nickel charge has been found in neighboring jurisdiction Washington DC, to be the right price-point to change the prevailing practice of packaging any purchase. Washington DC's Bag Law (The Anacostia River Protection Act) has been in place for one year, and has documented results such as:
• Reductions in disposable bag use by 60–70 percent (as reported by businesses)
• Reductions in the number of plastic bags being pulled from local streams and waterways by 65 percent (reported by environmental groups)
• Reductions in the use of paper and plastic single-use bags from 22.5 million to 3.2 million after the law took effect (reported by the District’s Chief Financial Officer)
• Revenue generated by the fee is going back into the community for trash reduction and clean-up efforts
Plastic bags often wind up as litter in local storm drains, streams and eventually our rivers. Studies of trash conducted in the Anacostia watershed have shown that plastic bags are one of the top four components of the litter found in streams.
Revenues from the bag charge will be dedicated to the Water Quality Protection Charge and be used for litter control programs, watershed protection activities, and for reusable bag distribution to low-income residents. The County spent $3 million in litter reduction and control programs in 2009. The bag charge offers retail consumers a choice of bringing their own bag and avoiding the 5-cent fee, and in doing so, shifts the burden from all County tax payers to retail consumers who chose to take a carryout bag for their purchases. Bill 8-11 was passed in a County Council session on May 3rd, 2011 and signed into Law on May 11, 2011.
Friday, October 01, 2010
The 5th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit was held Wednesday, September 22, 2010 in Washington DC. The annual convention addresses the goal of trash reduction in the Potomac River and is a forum to evaluate progress, strategies, commitments, and regulatory tools in place to achieve the goal. Montgomery County is one of the initial signatories to the Potomac Watershed Trash Treaty which commits signers to achieving a Trash-Free Potomac by 2013.
At the Summit, Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection was awarded a Potomac Champion Award. The award, received by Director Bob Hoyt, acknowledged the Department’s leadership in championing the use of regulatory tools, innovative outreach, and cooperative management to reduce trash in the river. Regulatory tools include Montgomery County's State-issued stormwater permit which requires that the County (1) meet a numeric pollution budget (TMDL) for trash and litter in the Anacostia River, a tributary to the Potomac and (2) achieve the goals of the Potomac Watershed Trash Treaty—a trash-free river by 2013. TMDLs provide the scientific basis for establishing water quality-based controls and reducing pollution. Under Hoyt, DEP has also provided support for a public education campaign and marketing effort to prevent litter, under development by the Alice Ferguson Foundation slated for region-wide distribution later this year.
The Secretary of Maryland’s Department of the Environment, Shari Wilson said, “Getting the requirements in place to meet the pollution limits required support from Montgomery County to come to fruition, and we appreciate the County's hard work.”
In awarding the Potomac Champion Award, Tracy Bowen, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation which spearheads the Trash Free Potomac Initiative, recognized that the leadership shown by the Montgomery County’s DEP would catalyze other neighboring jurisdictions to also use regulatory tools and other strategies to reduce trash and litter in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. She praised DEP’s “outstanding dedication to finding innovative solutions to eradicate trash.”
The annual Trash Summit had attendance from political jurisdictions around the Potomac Watershed which covers portions of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. Among the over 300 summit attendees were elected officials and decision-makers from around the region, non-profit and community organizations, the business community, solid waste professionals, students, clean up volunteers and others with a stake in a clean river.
Panel discussions and roundtable sessions were held on support for and implementation of regional strategies aimed at reducing trash and increasing recycling; and increasing education and awareness of the trash issue throughout the Potomac Watershed. Early drafts of the regional publicity campaign to address litter and stormwater pollution which winds up as trash in our rivers after rainfall events were also unveiled and discussed at the Summit.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Help your local watershed, while beautifying your yard and neighborhood. When you install a RainScapes technique on your property, you reduce stormwater runoff and help rainfall to soak into the ground. You can also apply for a financial reward for installing techniques including; rain barrels, rain gardens, permeable pavers, native plant gardens, trees, and green roof projects! Upto $1,200 is available for residences and upto $5,000 is available for businesses, institutions and condominiums.
Streetside native plants help to absorb stormwater runoff