south river restoration

Current Projects

Anne Arundel County, with support from the South River Federation, is retrofitting the large stormwater pond at Annapolis Harbour Center to increase its capacity for treating stormwater runoff.  This new project will tie directly into the Federation's Annapolis Harbour Center Stream and Wetlands Restoration project completed in 2016. The Federation has assisted with landowner coordination throughout the County's project and is leading efforts to temporarily relocate the pond's turtles during construction. 

Click here to visit the County's website and view a detailed description of the project, pictures, and plans.

The much beloved turtles at the Annapolis Harbour Center are about to get a better home! Anne Arundel County is replacing the current overflow style stormwater pond with a wetland stormwater pond filled with turtle perches for the turtles to bask on. The Federation and the Terrapin Institute are helping catch, measure, mark, and move the turtles to a temporary home so they are out of harm's way for the duration of construction. The rescued turtles will stay at the pond at our MVA restoration site until we return them in the fall to their new and improved wetland home.  

turtlelift (1)
turtlelift (2)
turtlelift (3)
turtlelift (4)
turtlelift (5)
turtlelift (6)
turtlelift (7)
turtlelift (8)
turtlelift (9)
turtlelift (10)
turtlelift (11)
turtlelift (12)
turtlelift (13)
turtlelift (14)

South River Federation (SRF), in partnership Turnbull Estates community, Edgewater, MD, is seeking to couple a community bioretention project with an innovative living shoreline restoration approach, utilizing the native oyster Crassostrea virginica along with conventional methods (segmented sills).  Funding will be used to implement this new approach with two major outcomes. First: prevent further erosion of the native beach and marsh, and to allow accretion to create additional habitat with a structural shellfish component.  Second: use the roadside ditch to infiltrate and process more nutrients than the current “transport” configuration.  Both the stormwater and shoreline components of this project will reduce sediment flowing into Glebe Creek, the home of the South River’s only designated oyster sanctuary.  In addition to improving water quality for the oyster sanctuary, this project will increase the habitat value of the current shoreline by reducing erosion, bringing in hundreds of native plants, and using existing woody debris to create multiple layers of habitat. 
The South River's most successful oyster reef is the Glebe Bay Oyster Sanctuary, which is under active restoration as part of the Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO)Program.  Despite success with the MGO program, the sanctuary continues to struggle with sediment loads.  Two primary sources of sediment have been identified in the watershed.  One is the highly eroding Glebe Creek headwaters.  Anne Arundel County DPW WPRP is currently designing a  stream restoration project along that troubled reach to be installed in 2018-2019.   A second major sediment source is this site, Turnbull Point, also called “Turnbull Cliffs.”   The 700 foot long, 8 – 20 foot tall tidal shoreline is directly adjacent to the Glebe Bay Oyster Sanctuary, and is eroding at approximately 1 foot per year.  
In 2014, the Turnbull community contacted the Federation for our recommendations on stabilizing the shoreline that they have seen eroding for three decades.  Through 2014, 2015, and 2016, we attended meetings and site visits with the residents and community leaders, in addition to discussing the project's habitat with partners from the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), to Maryland DNR, to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and many others.   Partners have agreed that a unique opportunity exists to support the existing oyster sanctuary with dual-duty oyster habitat – an approach that has been successfully used in Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida.  
Instead of proposing a conventional living shoreline, the Federation is working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), and Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) on an innovative approach to stabilizing this shoreline that utilizes existing sediment supply and will also add hard structure (likely 3’ oyster reef balls) that is more likely to become shellfish habitat than the types of rip rap used in conventional living shorelines due to its larger surface area to volume ratio to promote the growth of oysters and other bivalves. However, some amount of rip rap will still be used to ensure a stable living shoreline.  
BeforeRestoration (1)
BeforeRestoration (1)
BeforeRestoration (2)
BeforeRestoration (2)
BeforeRestoration (3)
BeforeRestoration (3)
BeforeRestoration (4)
BeforeRestoration (4)

Project Funded By:

CBT BayPlate Logogif 2010 WPRP logo  

The Edgewater Beach Septic and Stormwater Retrofit project is a multi-phase effort to work with a decades-old, waterfront community on the South River. We seek to comprehensively upgrade its infrastructure to help reduce negative impacts to health and water quality, improve property values, and bring up-to-code a community developed prior to most contemporary environmental regulations. The community of approximately 153 homes, most of which are within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area (1,000' of Mean High Water Line of tidal waters or landward edge of tidal wetlands), was largely developed in the 1960s on conventional septic systems and wells and without any stormwater management controls.

Unfortunately, 50 years later, it largely remains served by the same infrastructure. As a result, the Anne Arundel County Health Department has deemed Edgewater Beach one of 37 "problem area" communities countywide, with its issues compounded by its small lot sizes, high water table, and steep slopes. Additionally, the degraded condition of the wastewater infrastructure and its proximity to the South River have caused it to be identified as a "high" priority for restoration within the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works' (DPW) Septic System Master Plan.

In short, the South River Federation's goal, along with project team members GreenVest LLC, Reliable Contracting Company, Inc., Bay Engineering, Inc., Environmental Quality Resources, Inc., and Linowes & Blocker LLP, is to help reverse the decades of impacts from failing infrastructure. This project involves the wide scale conversion of an urban community from septic to sewer and an engineered plan to retrofit its antiquated stormwater management systems using Environmental Site Design (ESD) techniques to the Maximum Extent Practicable (MEP). We have also included an innovative method of converting existing septic fields and tanks to underground cisterns in order to reduce the volume and velocity of stormwater off of roofs in this 153 single family home community. In addition to the septic upgrades, this will be done by designing and constructing 3 different BMPs to remove nutrients from direct deposit into the South River.

The combination of these three significant activities in this community will be substantial. The project result can be permanent reductions in nutrients currently entering the South River, a goal we know the State and all of its residents have sought for years and a result we seek to have replicated elsewhere in the watershed.


Project Funded By:


The South River Federation has worked with a number of communities on the River to replace bulkhead and revetment with natural “living shoreline” projects. These projects rely less on structural materials, such as rock and lumber, for stabilization, and instead work with the wave energy on the River and creeks to prevent erosion and provide vital habitat for animals such as terrapins and horseshoe crabs that spend critical phases of their lives at the water’s edge. These living shorelines are stabilized with native shrubs and grasses and also provide important nesting and feeding areas for shorebirds and other wildlife.

Visit our living shoreline page here.

Background: The Bacon Ridge Natural Area (BRNA) is a County owned Natural Area in Crownsville, MD. The area consists of over 700 acres of forests, streams, and wetlands, including portions of the Crownsville State Hospital property. The Federation strongly advocated for the permanent protection of new parcels in 2009 and 2010 , as well as for increased public access to the property once those parcels were acquired and protected. Anne Arundel County continues to add acreage to the site, which sits in a sensitive area of the South River's headwaters. For more information on the Bacon Ridge Natural Area, please visit the Scenic Rivers Land Trust website or Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks page.

Restoration: Bacon Ridge Branch is a stream within Bacon Ridge Natural Area that is experiencing significant erosion and headcutting despite being surrounded by only 4% impervious cover in its drainage area. This is partially due to naturally erosive soils, but primarily a result of continued runoff from state highways and a history of deforestation, soil loss, and poor livestock management practices in past eras (hence the name "Bacon Ridge" - pigs roamed freely after the watershed was deforested). US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) biologists have identified at least 180 active headcuts (erosion areas) within the property. Action is needed to retain the high quality wetlands and forests in this area, before they are impacted by stream channel erosion and impacts to the entire forest's hydrology.

Headcut Project 1: USFWS designed, permitted, and constructed a series of log weirs in a rapidly eroding forested headcut in September, 2014. SRF assisted by providing live plants and volunteers to help the restoration area become established and stable.

Groundwater Recharge Wetlands: In 2015, SRF and USFWS decided to partner to explore an experimental concept devised by USFWS: to collect stormwater in small wetlands and then (through pipes or a gravel layer) allow the filtered wetland overflow to travel vertically back into a highly porous soil layer, recharging the groundwater table instead of contributing runoff volumes to nearby headcuts. As of early 2016, the project is approximately 50% funded and should be constructed by late 2016.

Main Stem Stream Restoration. In early 2015, USFWS notified SRF that significant erosion was present in the main stem of Bacon Ridge Branch (an intermittent stream channel reach). The site represents roughly 2,500 linear feet of actively eroding perennial channel in a forested setting. Vertical downcutting in the stream bed is causing the active drainage of high quality forested wetlands, which will eventually convert to uplands or marginal wetlands if no action is taken. The Federation and USFWS are working to increase floodplain connection via use of valley-wide grade control structures, while still providing an active, flowing channel in its current location. This approach will provide many of the benefits of more extensive regenerative stream conveyance (RSC) approaches with a far more limited scope of disturbance to the existing forest, and at a much reduced cost.

Project Funded By:

DNRweb US Fish and Wildlife Service CBT BayPlate Logogif 2010