Stormwater should be a resource, not a waste product
Stormwater management has been receiving a great deal of attention in the Chesapeake Bay region the last few decades. We now know that in addition to having stormwater runoff transport nutrients and chemicals from the land to our waterways, there are issues regarding the quantity/volume of water entering our streams. Too much stormwater from developed areas results in stream bank erosion, which negatively impacts our aquatic biota.
The historic approach for addressing stormwater management has been to build large, engineered ponds designed to contain runoff volume.
As our scientific understanding has increased, we find this approach leads to issues of its own. Below these ponds, many streams continue to experience human-induced stream bank erosion. New techniques under the banner of Low Impact Development were created to help address this matter. These conservation techniques allow stormwater to percolate into the ground rather than enter waterways downstream.
Over the last decade, there has been a renewed interest in capturing stormwater and using it. Most commonly, we see the promotion of rain barrels by various conservation organizations and local governments. Drought conditions throughout the mid-Atlantic region have helped to promote water conservation, and citizens have learned about the value of collecting water from their roof during storms.
Another great challenge facing the region is providing a safe and adequate water supply. If we can move away from treating stormwater as a waste product and realize its value as an untapped water supply resource, then we have an opportunity to address two management issues at once. A waste product then becomes something desirable.
While rain barrels provide residential homeowners an opportunity to collect small volumes of water to irrigate lawns, installing large cisterns in appropriate places provides residents and businesses with significantly greater opportunities to address their water supply concerns.
We are seeing technology that goes back thousands of years resurfacing in the region. Incorporated into the LID conservation toolbox, this old technology is now considered innovative.
And it makes sense. A 1-inch rain storm on a 1,000-square-foot roof can produce approximately 625 gallons of water that can be used for beneficial purposes such as irrigation or flushing toilets. Additionally, there is a reduction in stormwater runoff pollution.
Currently, the missing link is making the connection with water supply concerns in the Chesapeake region. While rainwater collection is not the complete solution to addressing regional water supply matters, it does provide a proven option for reducing the demand on water supplies. In turn, we not only realize significant benefits in reducing stormwater runoff, but we also keep more water in streams and rivers that could be used for water supply purposes. That, in turn, promotes the conservation and protection of our aquatic biological resources.
As regional resource managers continue to look at how we can reduces the impacts of development in our urban/suburban areas, we should reconsider using some of our ancestor's technologies to help us move toward the future.
Board election set for annual meeting
The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay's annual meeting will take place Nov. 7 at the Center of Marine Biotechnology located at 701 E. Pratt St. in Baltimore, MD.
The election of new members of the board of directors and officers will also take place at the meeting.
Alliance members who would like to vote will find a copy of the ballot at www.alliancechesbay.org/boardballot.cfm.
Ballots are due no later than Nov. 3.
Members who do not have access to the Internet may call 410-377-6270 to ask for a ballot to be mailed to them.
'Taste of the Chesapeake' set for Nov. 7
The "Taste of the Chesapeake" annual fund-raiser of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is scheduled to take place 6- 10 p.m. Nov. 7.
This year's event will be at the historic Baltimore Museum of Industry, located at 1415 Key Highway on the Inner Harbor South.
In addition to great food, great views and great dancing, the museum exhibit areas will be open for guests to wander and experience Baltimore's early years, when it was a center of industry and innovation.
The event includes the presentation of the annual Environmental Leadership Award in honor of former Alliance Executive Director Fran Flanigan. This year, the award will be presented to Cindy Adams Dunn, deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, for her decades of devotion to the rivers of the Chesapeake and the Bay.
To make reservations or to become a sponsor of this year's Taste of the Chesapeake, call 410-377-6270 or visit the Alliance website, www.acb-online.org.
A portion of the cost is tax-deductible, and all proceeds will benefit the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
All of us at the Alliance look forward to your joining us for this very special event!
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