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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: November 2008


Video from the Executive Council meeting

We're (slowly) adding video of the 2008 Executive Council meeting to YouTube. Check out what we have up so far:

From the news conference: Mayor Fenty, Governor O'Malley (two parts) and Governor Kaine.

From the public "poster session": presentations on Bay Program partners' progress on their champion roles (given by Peter Marx from the Bay Program office) and the Chesapeake TMDL (two parts, given by Jon Capacasa at EPA Region 3 and Rich Batiuk at the Bay Program office).

You can visit our YouTube channel to check out the rest of the footage as it is added.


Getting aboard the low-impact development train

Here at the American Society of Civil Engineers International Low-Impact Development (LID) Conference in Seattle, I’m swept up body and spirit by the growing throng of several hundred enthusiastic devotees to the cause of polluted runoff (a.k.a. “stormwater”) reduction. As a non-engineer EPA bureaucrat, I’m a first-time participant in this biennial LID pilgrimage. But after three days of PowerPoint presentations and an all-day field trip to Portland, Oregon, which is the other “LID Mecca,” I’m just about ready to compose my own rap tune out of cool LID lingo and design “treatment trains” (combinations of multiple LID techniques) in my sleep. When I get home I’ll definitely take a new look at my own roof downspouts and concrete driveway, and think about how much reinforcement my carport will need before I can put a vegetable garden on the roof!

I used to be an engineer when I was a kid growing up in the suburbs of hilly central Connecticut. One of my favorite activities was building snow dams in the street gutter when the rain finally came and melted the snow on our particularly steep hill. It was great fun to pack the snow into a big ice dam and then, when the call came to go inside for dinner – invariably at 5:00 sharp – kick the dam open and send a big slushy gusher down the street.  Down at the bottom of the hill it always flooded out of the street and into the Perraults’ front yard.  (Maybe that’s why I felt guilty when I saw them at Sunday Mass.)

Of course at that time, I didn’t see any connection between that phenomenon – the runoff gusher – and the fact that we could always catch trout in the Quinnipiac River upstream of the city but never caught any downstream. Or why we never found any oysters when we went way downstream to tromp through the mud in Long Island Sound, even though my grandfather and uncles told great stories of burlap sacks full.

From what I’ve learned thus far, the “treatment train” at a house like mine would go something like this:

  • First, don’t cut down any trees and plant as many additional trees and shrubs as possible.
  • Basically get rid of the lawn.
  • Catch all the rain you can on a green roof, where it either evaporates or gets used up by the plants. That’s evapotranspiration.
  • For the remainder of the water that comes down your downspouts, run it directly into a rain garden, where a lot of mulch, trees, shrubs and native plants soak it up (more evapotranspiration), and lots of it goes through the soil into the groundwater. That’s infiltration.
  • If you have a driveway, garden path or sidewalk, replace the non-porous (impervious) concrete and asphalt with porous (pervious) stuff. More infiltration.
  • If there’s still a surplus of water, run it through a vegetated swale (more evapotranspiration) and into another basin with more trees, shrubs and mulch. The surface of the swale should be a little lower than the surrounding land so that it may form a pond for a little while when there’s a really heavy rain. That’s biorentention.

By that point, you should have pretty well mimicked what the Chesapeake Bay watershed used to be: a beautiful hardwood forest with clean waters in healthy streams. With this LID “treatment train,” now we can all be engineers! Choo Choo!

About Mike Fritz - Mike Fritz is with the U.S. EPA at the Chesapeake Bay Program office.


Gearing up for the Executive Council meeting

The 2008 Chesapeake Exective Council meeting is just two days away, and agencies throughout the Bay Program partnership are busy finalizing details for this annual event. This year, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, and representatives from Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, West Virginia, the USDA and the Chesapeake Bay Commission will be on hand to review the past year's Bay restoration efforts and set a new agenda for 2009. You can read more details about the meeting at the Bay Program's website.

The meeting will be held at Union Station in Washington and is open to the public from 12:30-3 p.m. We're also planning to have a live webcast of the meeting on our website; stay tuned for that link.


An afternoon at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

Yesterday I visited the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC), located in Grasonville on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It's an excellent spot for an afternoon walk, with trails that wind through salt marshes and loblolly pine stands. According to its website, CBEC has four miles of trails, two observation towers and two observation blinds, which are great to take photos from. There's also a one-mile water trail, with canoes and kayaks on-site available to rent (though it was a little too chilly to be out on the water yesterday!).  

CBEC is also part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, a network of over 150 sites in Maryland, Virginia, D.C., Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and New York. Gateways include water trails, parks, wildlife preserves, museums and more. If you're looking for a way to experience the Chesapeake Bay or your local river, the Gateways Network has lots of spots to offer.

CBEC is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. It's about a 20-minute drive from the Bay Bridge and there's a $5 per person admission charge. I hope you're able to go check it out!

Alicia Pimental's avatar
About Alicia Pimental - Alicia is the Chesapeake Bay Program's online communications manager. She manages the Bay Program's web content and social media channels. Alicia discovered her love for nature and the environment while growing up along Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts. When she's not at work, Alicia enjoys cooking, traveling, photography and playing with her chocolate lab, Tess.

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