As part of our ongoing efforts to curb stormwater runoff, Blue Water Baltimore has been working with many faith groups in the Jones Falls watershed on projects to reduce the amount of runoff from their congregations’ sites. Each project is a journey — here we highlight efforts at the beginning and midway of that path, and one nearing completion.
Shrine of the Sacred Heart
At Shrine of the Sacred Heart on Regent Road in Mt. Washington, work has only just begun. In these first few weeks, it can be hard to discern the pattern that will emerge, but the plan calls for three rain gardens to be built, capturing and treating stormwater runoff from a total of nearly 14,000 square feet of rooftop and driveway. For every storm that brings one inch or more of rain, the project will prevent an estimated 8,500 gallons of water from entering the storm drains and carrying trash and pollution into our waterways.
The path to completing a project is not always smooth, or level. At Gallery Church in Highlandtown, workers stumbled upon a total of three separate sets of hidden concrete stairs, setting the project back six weeks and requiring a total redesign. While the original plans called for stormwater planters set against the foundation of the building so that the tops of the planters would be flush with the sidewalk, this would have required the removal of the steps, which would be too costly and potentially damaging to the building to be practical. Instead, our Environmental Construction Team (ECT) will create raised bed planters above each set of steps, with smaller planters in between.
At Chizuk Amuno, a synagogue in Pikesville, work is drawing to a close. As soon as plants become available in April, the project will be completed. The synagogue will join 17 other congregations who have pursued a project on congregational property, and seven more will follow them by year’s end. Projects range from installing a rain barrel and planting trees to removing portions of parking lots and creating rain gardens.
All of these locations were identified through the Blue Water Congregations program. BWB in partnership with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake started this program to help religious groups identify and implement stormwater reduction. By engaging with places of worship, the aim of the program was to spread important environmental messages, encourage similar practices at home, and cultivate a faith-inspired concept of stewardship among spiritual communities. These large institutional projects also treat a great deal more stormwater at once than individual outreach can accomplish.
Following the success of Blue Water Congregations, we are continuing our partnership with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC) through a program called One Water Partnership, which engages congregations in the Jones Falls Watershed and supports their efforts to develop environmental stewardship.
Oz Campitelli is Construction Operations Manager for Blue Water Baltimore. Thanks to Erin Bennett, our Stormwater Program Manager, for her contributions both to this article, on site at Shrine of The Sacred Heart, and through her leadership for Blue Water Congregations and the upcoming One Water Partnership.