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Environmental Heads Tour South River Federation Projects

On October, 14th, 2015, three major decision makers with vast influence over environmental budgets and policy toured several of the South River Federation’s restoration projects this week. Secretary Mark Belton of MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Secretary Ben Grumbles of MD Department of the Environment (MDE), and Director Tommy Wells of the District’s Department of Energy and the Environment (DDOE) visited several of the Federation’s recent restoration projects by boat on a beautiful fall day.

From the Federation, Kate Fritz, Executive Director and Kirk Mantay, Director of Restoration, guided the environmental leaders through three restoration sites, two on Church Creek, the most impaired waterway on the South River and one on Broad Creek, the second most degraded creek on the river. Both DNR and MDE are crucial partners in any restoration initiative for the South River, playing critical roles in the design, permitting, funding and monitoring of the projects. The District has only started to install large scale in-stream restoration projects in the last few years. “They joined the tour because they wanted to learn about the challenges and opportunities associated withPreserve10.15 a program like their own, a decade after starting,” said Mantay. 

In Annapolis, last year, on the Durmont Branch of Broad Creek in the neighborhood called “Preserve at Broad Creek, the Federation constructed 27 sand and gravel step pools and two large "top of watershed" bioretention practices to fix a failed storm water pond and its resulting washout to Broad Creek. The project (see picture on right) transformed a 1,200 foot long eroding gully filled with downed trees, ticks and spiders into a stable stream that offers 1.5 acres of valuable aquatic and wetland habitat. It is only one of several projects to holistically address the poor water quality of Broad Creek.

 “I was encouraged to see thatWilelinorplume through our partnership with the South River Federation private and public funds were leveraged to improve water quality, which will provide high quality habitat for the state’s fish and wildlife,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “The South River Federation achieves impressive results by applying rigorous science and a holistic approach to improve the health of our rivers and streams, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.”

 On Church Creek, Fritz showed a year and a half old project in the neighborhood of Poplar Point in Annapolis, MD near Solomons Island Road. The Federation turned a 20-foot deep eroding gully that contributed significant amounts of bacterial and sediment pollution to Church Creek into 1.9 acres of coastal stream, cascading wetland pools, and an uphill bioretention facility. This project successfully handled all major storm flows since its early 2014 construction, which included a 500 year storm, a 75 year storm, two 10 year storms, and eleven urban flash floods.

 Finally, the Secretaries checked out the Wilelinor Valley Restoration Project that was installed over ten years ago on Church Creek. By slowing the flow of the water and trapping sediment, this project is able to enhance water quality, aquatic habitat, and ecological function.  Two in-stream aquatic beds were created to capture sediment using sand seepage stream and wetland restoration techniques. Shortly after the project was completed, the Federation took the below aerial photo during a large storm. As you can see in the picture on the left, clear water is flowing out of the stream restoration project into the muddy waters of Church Creek. To view more pictures, click here.

By Nancy Merrill