a group of people walking down a sidewalk

Breaking New Ground at Govans Presbyterian

Last week Blue Water Baltimore joined members of Govans Presbyterian Church to break ground on an exciting new $135,000 stormwater project. Though it might be hard to tell from blueprints and place markers, this will soon be the site of an impressive cleaning machine for our waterways. It all starts with a pond; well, not a pond exactly. The engineers will tell you it’s the first phase of a “bioretention facility.” What that means in practice is using living, breathing nature – plants, soil, grass, and other materials – and sculpting and arranging them to hold back stormwater when it rains, which in turn keeps contaminants out of our waterways. So not just a place for quiet contemplation but a frontline defense preventing pollution from entering the Jones Falls.

CityScape will then add a full bioretention facility stretching from the congregation’s parking lot to its prayer “labyrinth,” with EQR as the contractor. Together, this new infrastructure will both store excess water from heavy rains — preventing it from running over the pavement and collecting pollution on the way into our storm drains — and serve as a buffer that filters out contaminants from that same stormwater.

Next we’ll replace the church’s patio with permeable pavement built by SBC Landscaping. This will allow water to soak into the ground, which promotes natural irrigation and cleans the rain water. The church will also plant a pair of new trees and over 1,200 new native plants, all serving to prevent a flood of stormwater runoff from entering our rivers and streams. All told, the full project will treat 0.68 impervious acres of stormwater runoff. That might not sound like a lot, but it translates to over half a football field of pollution prevented from entering our streams and rivers each time it rains.

These construction projects are the latest initiative of the faith-based One Water Partnership program, and will go hand-in-hand with awareness raising among the congregation about their impact on the earth and the environment that surrounds them. “This will be one small thing we can do to make the earth cleaner and take care of this creation God have given us,” the Rev. Tom Harris told the Baltimore Sun during a service to mark the event. Govans Presbyterian is just one of many faith groups working to implement stormwater projects with Blue Water Baltimore throughout the Jones Falls Watershed as part of One Water Partnership. The collective impact of these projects in curbing pollution from stormwater runoff continues to grow.

We are so excited to continue this work through our partnership with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and the One Water Partnership program. If you are interested in activating your faith organization and helping to build a better, stronger stormwater infrastructure to fight pollution and create a clean water future for all, learn more about becoming a member of the Partnership here.

-Carl Simon is Director of Programs at Blue Water Baltimore. 

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