By Shannon Taylor
Chesapeake Bay Trust Summer Intern
With large campuses full of green fields for kids to play in, elementary schools such as James Craik Elementary School (JCES), are great places to implement stormwater management. The students there are proud to call themselves a certified Maryland Green School. Along with incorporating environmental subjects into their curriculum, the staff of JCES, with assistance from the Port Tobacco River Conservancy, implemented stormwater management programs on their grounds in order to limit their school’s rainwater, sediment, and nutrient runoff into the downstream Port Tobacco Creek: one of ten major tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay in Charles County.
The project addresses stormwater flowing from the school grounds, including runoff from roofs and parking lots, that ultimately enters Port Tobacco Creek. This project installed a 16,000 square foot bioretention best management practice (BMP) to capture stormwater from these impervious surfaces. It also features 1,000 native plants, including plants that are attractive to pollinators.
During storm events, rainwater flowing off the elementary school’s parking lot once emptied directly into the school playing fields and ultimately into the nearby Port Tobacco Creek. The bio retention BMP, however, diverts water through a descending path of river stones, and native vegetation to create a natural filter for rainwater runoff, allowing the majority of the stormwater to infiltrate at the bioretention feature and to allow clean, filtered water to make its way into the Port Tobacco Creek.
James Craik’s principle Michelle Beckwith is excited for the students to “have the opportunity to learn about and study, hands on, the ecosystem.” This project, she says, “will also help them learn about the importance of water conservation, and the beauty of nature”, as well as “provide a change of scenery” and “fresh air” to the students.. The Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT), Charles County, Michelle Beckwith, and Julie Simpson recently met at the project onsite during the annual kickball game at the school in May. “This project is an excellent example of how stormwater management can be artistically designed while providing important function and treatment in a highly visible location, perfect for educating young students,” says Sarah T. Koser, Senior Program Officer at CBT.
Thanks to both the Port Tobacco River Conservancy and James Craik Elementary school for their commitment to cleaning up the Chesapeake’s tributaries.