Baltimore County completes $2M Tidal Back River Greening Project to reduce stormwater runoff, improve water quality

Back River Bridge Baltimore County completes $2M Tidal Back River Greening Project  to reduce stormwater runoff, improve water qualityTOWSON – Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz stood on the banks of Back River on Wednesday morning alongside local community leaders, environmental advocates, and officials to mark the completion of an ambitious $2 million project to reduce pollution running into Back River from stormwater.

The Tidal Back River Greening Project includes nine sites, on both sides of the river, where the County replaced impervious areas with vegetation, planted tree buffers and installed a number of permanent stormwater treatment measures. In addition to the Essex Park & Ride lot where today’s event was held, the project involved work at the Back River Community Center and seven public school locations.

“This is the type of focused action that will have significant, tangible benefits for water quality in Back River,” said Kamenetz. “By planting trees and treating stormwater to remove contaminants, we are directly improving the health of Back River and the important habitats it supports.”

The Essex Park & Ride lot portion of the project entailed the installation of two bioretention facilities that will receive previously untreated stormwater and filter it through a media in the bottom to remove harmful pollutants before that water is released into the storm drain system and discharged to Back River. Plus, a considerable amount of paving was removed from an underutilized side of the parking lot and backfilled, graded and planted with trees for canopy enhancement and additional pollutant removal.

The Tidal Back River Greening Project is part of an overall strategy for restoration of the Tidal Back River watershed. Developed by the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS), the project is designed to satisfy environmental program requirements while also meeting the needs for a healthy environment, clean water, and an aesthetically pleasing community.

“This kind of investment truly has tremendous immediate and long-term benefits for our local waterways and our communities,” said 7th District Councilman John Olszewski, Sr.

“I applaud the County for undertaking this important effort to keep contaminants and trash from running into Back River,” said 6th District Councilwoman Cathy Bevins. “I would also like to thank the community-based Back River Restoration Committee for their ongoing commitment to improving the water quality of Back River.”

This $2 million project is funded jointly by Baltimore County, a Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Trust Fund Grant, a Maryland Department of the Environment Green Grant from the Water Quality Financing Administration, and a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. It was a cooperative effort between EPS; Baltimore County Public Schools; the consultant, Parsons Brinkerhoff and the contractor, Angler Environmental.

“The greening project completed today at Back River is a wonderful example of the shared commitment between the state, the county, and local community organizations to protect our watersheds, preserve the environment, and improve the quality of life for our residents,” said Delegate John Olszewski, Jr. “Back River is a treasured part of our community and vital to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and projects like this will help preserve it for generations to come.”

“The Chesapeake Bay Trust applauds the great work of Baltimore County’s Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability for their efforts to advance restoration practices that engage the general public in the preservation and protection of our natural resources,” said Jana Davis, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “We are so pleased to partner on this project that will help improve water quality and result in nutrient reduction for Back River, and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.”

An Increased Focus on Stormwater Remediation

Stormwater retrofits for improving water quality are an increasingly important component of the County’s watershed restoration program. Several projects of this type have been undertaken in recent years, the Tidal Back River Greening Project being the largest of those to date. These types of projects pose particular challenges for designers because rather than having the freedom to work with an open undeveloped site, improvements must be provided at existing sites and/or for existing facilities.

Back River is among the waterways listed as impaired in the Maryland 303(d) list for Various Pollutants of Concern. The Tidal Back River Greening Project is an important component of Baltimore County’s ongoing efforts to comply with the requirements for TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) pollutant reduction for Back River and its Municipal Separate Sewer System Discharge Permit.

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