Tom Schueler loves acronyms.

So when the executive director of the Chesapeake Stormwater Network saw an opportunity to use “BUBBA” as shorthand for a stormwater management competition, he jumped on it. He even managed to embed an acronym in an acronym: The full name for the semi-annual competition of creative and efficient stormwater projects is the “Best Urban BMP in the Bay Award.” BMP means “best management practice.”

The contest opened for submissions on Jan. 22 with an entry deadline of April 5. The grand prize is $5,000.

“The BUBBAs remind us that there’s a great stormwater community out there in the Bay region,” Schueler said. “It’s important to showcase the good work that people do.”

Past BUBBA winners include projects like uncovering a buried stream in the District of Columbia and a project in Ellicott City that retrofitted a steep staircase with rain gardens, swales and a path for pedestrians — delivering stormwater management, pollution reduction, beauty and pedestrian safety all in one project.

Stormwater management is difficult in an urban environment, and each site has its own challenges. Underground utilities and pipes have to be navigated, and soil needs to moved and stored in very tight spaces, along with a myriad other issues that come up. The goal of the BUBBA competition is to recognize BMPs that creatively address those challenges with techniques that can be shared with other communities.

The contest is open to anyone who thinks they have a BMP that deserves merit, including local governments, private practitioners and nonprofit organizations. But unlike many stormwater design contests that require a design and a plan, the BUBBA is a contest of existing practices installed in the last five years within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The process is fairly easy: Fill out a simple form and send a two-page narrative and photographs.

Entries can be submitted to one of seven categories that range from Residential BMP to Ultra Urban.

And not all of the projects need to be made of native plants and under-drains. There is a category for the Best Outreach Campaign that goes above and beyond the minimum standard required in a municipality’s stormwater permit. Other categories include: Best Stream Restoration, Best Retrofit, Best Habitat Creation in a BMP and Best Sustainable Facility.

Category winners will be determined by a 35-person jury of stormwater professionals. All seven first-place category winners will announced in late April, and then each will be entered in the People’s Choice Award for a chance to be the Best Overall BMP and win a $5,000 prize — chosen by internet ballot.

About 2,000 people weighed in on the decision in the 2017 contest.

Winners will also get an invitation to the Chesapeake Stormwater Retreat held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. The two-day immersive retreat is an opportunity to exchange ideas with stormwater professionals from across the Bay region.

“It’s very informal,” Schueler said. “The central reason for getting together is to discuss technical and policy issues. “It’s the one opportunity we have to get together. Otherwise, we would all be disembodied voices on indeterminable conference calls.”

Learn about the BUBBA competition and enter your project at