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Ecosystem restoration in the Chesapeake Bay headwaters, Severn River Tributary, Anne Arundel County Maryland

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[Music playing]


We're standing on one of the many sand

berms that have been recently created for

this somewhat larger restoration project;

looking at restoring watershed hydrology

in this area. It's a tributary to the

Severn River. Hala, what are some of the

details that went into this stream restoration project?

Hala: Well as you mentioned, Faith, this

is part of a larger ecosystem restoration

project. The main parts of this project

and what makes this really a great

opportunity is that we had a project to construct

an office building and within that project a

very sensible stormwater management, low

impact stormwater management, that also

employs similar techniques that you have seen

as part of the stepping stone conveyance have

been implemented. What makes this site

where we're standing here pretty unique

is that we had an outfall that was in an

extremely degraded condition where normally

if you are to develop a site and do all of

your management offsite, you wouldn't have

to do anything about a degraded out fall system.

This is a project that went beyond the

requirements; beyond the regulations;

and conducted structural restoration,

ecosystem restoration, that you can see

here and more than a half of mile of ecosystem

restoration and the implementation of

regenerative storm conveyance to restore

what used to be a severely degraded

channel receiving severely degraded habitat

scores within our assessment, our

watershed study assessment; had very

poor biological assessments prior to

restoration; and just a series of head

cuts and erosion. That's all you could

see walking down this stream system which

is very different than we see now. It's a

unique opportunity to retrofit some of

the sins of the past and to go beyond

the requirement of a development site.

Faith: And Ron, what were some of the county

involvement aspects, being that this is right within the county?

Ron: Well the complex that we're within

houses both the central headquarters for

our police department as well as our fire

department. And the department of public

works became part of the complex a number

of years ago with the centralization of

our water operations. We're taking this one

step beyond that currently and we have a

new central sanitation facility that will

allow us to bring the rest of our sanitary

sewer operations into this same complex

and centralize operations. So we wanted

to make sure that we took advantage of

the opportunity with the new office building

that we created up here to pursue a silver

lead certification on the design and

construction of the facility. As part of

that process the site planning becomes a

very important component of the lead

certification rating system. What we did

with the management component of this is we

generated the infiltration of stormwater

throughout the entire site complex itself.

The full complex is ringed with a series

of infiltration devices that begin to

collect and infiltrate water from the very

top of the drainage basin. And as we progress

around the perimeter of the property, we get

into the parking lot areas that were

constructed as part of the central sanitation facility.

Those parking areas have a very deep bed of

cobble and gravel underneath them so all of

what otherwise would have been impervious

areas are actually introducing surface run

off into the ground water system at the top

of the watershed. So, the opportunity to

take advantage of the severely degraded

stream channel we had through here as a

component part of that project, was something

that we were very excited to have that

opportunity, to marry the two together and

had a budget appropriation that allowed us

to do that. What we see here today is a

very dramatic increase in the hydrology of

the system; an unbelievable impalement of

water within the steps here but also

throughout the whole geology of the area.

Hala: It was actually correctorized as

a gulley system. When we classified this

stream here, it was a gulley system. It

was on the order of I would say about

ten to fifteen feet in height, the banks.

The type of material in the channels was

very characteristic of a high sediment

yield channel system that was very fine

material in the bottom of the channel.

It had no access to the flood plain at

all so there were no water quality

functions being conducted in the previous channel.

Faith: This was like a there's a remnant

bog just up the way a bit, right? There's

some remnant of what used to cover a

much larger area of the landscape.

Keith: Of the whole region here, yeah.

Faith: The whole region. So this system

that's new, the complex is tied into that

bog and you've kind of improved that as well, right?

Keith: Well the fundamental development

of the bogs in this area, and what's left

of the bogs in this area, has to do with

hydration of sugar white sands in this

formation. So what we've done is lift the

water up to rehydrate those and then reduce

the slope on the ground water. So storing

ever more water back up in the landscape,

when that leaks out, as the spring head

seeps, that's kind of the very fundamental

start of these bog ecosystems. So again

back to this integrated stream and wetland

ecosystem, here we can honestly call this

a restoration because we're working with

the native geology and with the native

plant form; or at least replicating in

some sense of the native plant form.

Faith: How does a sight like this fit

into kind of the broader TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) issue?

Ron: That's a very good question and it's

one that is really important to us. We have

huge challenges to confront as it relates

to the existing TMDL that's being

promulgated. We have substantial pollutant

reduction that's necessary to achieve

the level of allocation we need. Going

along with that, as we reduce the pollutant

load, we also need to be able to demonstrate

that we can keep those loads at those

allocated levels as economic growth and

development continues. So with that concept

in mind, on this particular project and

all of the work that's been done to

infiltrate to the maximum extent possible

stormwater runoff within the site planning

itself, we have exceeded the requirements

that we have from a storm management perspective.

This would clearly be, just for the site

planning and implementation itself, a

no net impact project, quite frankly,

that has probably further improved the water

quality coming through the system. Adding

on top of that this roughly half mile of

stream restoration that we've recreated

here and all the hydrology that's generated,

what we will actually recognize as a net

result of the combined projects, including

the stream restoration, is a substantial

pollutant load reduction from what

preexisted before we even started on the

site. So this would be a very classic

example of what can be accomplished and

achieved as it related to being able to

provide the assurance that when you reach

allocations that you develop these techniques,

you can actually have new no net increase

and in many cases you actually have a

positive gain in terms of reduction.

Keith: If I can just add to that, when

you shoot for the moon like we did on

this project where you can work your way

to the top of the watershed with a matrix

of zero order streams that serve your

stormwater management needs, that are

all sand bedded and linked hydrogeologically,

this kind of magic happens. The other magic

that happens is all your stormwater

pipes go away. So this is a redevelopment

project. This is where lots of people

would tell us that this can't be done.

We're standing here looking at a perrenial

stream that didn't exist prior to

this project going underground.

Hala: And if I may just add one thing is the

site drainage area is a very small component

of the drainage area of the stream here.

We're talking about on the order of I

believe 130 acres drainage area to the

stream system. The treatment within the

stream system, this half a mile of restoration

that we've done here, does wonders for

our need to meet TMDL toward the Bear Branch

and the Severn River because here we are

creating the treatment for this 100

acres that we didn't even impact. So

this is going beyond what's required on

development and a redevelopment project,

I think it is going to be crucial

if we ever would meet a TMDL.

Faith: So more than just the one site.

You're gaining the entire benefit for the entire watershed.

Ron: There are other developed areas

in the upland that otherwise now being

treated through this system.

Keith: What gives us great hope about

this as an example is the cost savings

associated with this. Not only do we

get all these fantastic natural

resource benefits back, but what

a lovely park for people to be walking

in off behind these buildings here and

all the pipes go away, saving millions

of dollars. I think, personally, that's

what's gonna drive this ecosystem

restoration approach to managing our

water draining all together.

Faith: It seems like the incision process

just keeps going and just adding pipes

doesn't necessarily cut off that process in the long run.

Keith: We have a huge obstacle to overcome.

It's intuitive for human beings to want

to see where that water is going and drive

down in the landscape. It's counter intuitive

for us to put the water up here so I think

that we're going to fight that battle for

awhile even when people are visiting sites like this.

[Music playing]

[End of Audio]


Title: Ecosystem restoration in the Chesapeake Bay headwaters, Severn River Tributary, Anne Arundel County Maryland


Faith Fitzpatrick (U.S. Geological Survey), Hala Flores (Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works), Ronald Bowen (Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works), and Keith Underwood (Underwood and Assoc.) talk about stream restoration projects associated with Anne Arundel County's new office complex. A 0.5- mile long series of sand seepage berms and bog wetlands were constructed instead of traditional stormwater ponds. This unique site had a degraded and eroded outfall system and ephemeral gully that was rehabilitated into a perennial stream and floodplain system starting with enhanced infiltration in the headwaters. Pollutant load reductions also are met through stormwater redevelopment using sand bedded systems.

Location: Anne Arundel County, MD, USA

Date Taken: 3/22/2011

Length: 10:52

Video Producer: Douglas A. Harned , National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA), USGS, North Carolina Water Science Center, Raleigh, NC

Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this video.

Additional Video Credits:

Faith Fitzpatrick: Scriptwriter, Narrator, Scientist Consultant

Gerard McMahon: Producer

Douglas Harned: Producer, Video, Editor

Alan Cressler: Video

Luke Myers: Video

Hala Flores (Anne Arundel County, Department of Public Works)

Ronald Bowen (Anne Arundel County, Department of Public Works)

Ronald Bowen (Anne Arundel County, Department of Public Works)

Keith Underwood (Underwood and Assoc.)

File Details:

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In: Water collection

Tags: AnneArundelCounty AquaticEcology Baltimore DouglasHarned EUSE Ecosystems FaithFitzpatrick Habitat Hydrology Maryland NAWQA SeepageBerm SevernRiverTributary StormWaterPond StreamRehabilitation StreamRestoration USGS Urbanization WaterQuality WaterResourceManagement


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