Step Pool Storm Conveyance Near Completion

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Most of us were wrong about the nature of the construction site on Rt. 213 across from Kent Plaza. It’s not a driveway or road to the Lamotte Company, or a building site for new stores.

It’s actually an innovative environmental system created to filter storm runoff before it reaches the Chester River and the Bay, and construction for the 400 ft. Step Pool Conveyance in the field across from The Freeze on Rt. 213 is almost completed.

Engineered by DMS Engineering in Centreville and constructed by Environmental Quality Resources  in Millersville as a unique solution to handle and filter storm-water runoff from 54 acres of mostly impervious surface in the Kent Plaza area, the $450K project will greatly reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment runoff in the downstream wetland area and Radcliffe Creek which flows into the Chester River.

Installed by the Town of Chestertown, the construction runs along a property line shared by Washington College and The LaMotte Company who worked together to provide an easement for the water filtration system.

“This will address the Kent County Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) and the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) assigned to Kent County by MDE and EPA,” said Kees de Mooy, Zoning Administrator.

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Briggs Cunningham, Energy Programs Manager for Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES), explains that funding for the Step Pool Conveyance project was initiated by the Middle Chester Partners—a partnership of County, Town, College and local environmental organizations—through a grant from the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund that was administered by Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources’ Local Implementation Grants program.

Partners for this program included: Kent County government, Chester River Association, Kent County Soil and Water Conservation District/NRCS, Chester River Association, Sassafras River Association, University of Maryland, MD Department of Agriculture, Ducks Unlimited, the Town of Chestertown, Washington College’s Center for Environemnt & Society, and the Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology.

“The partners identified three focus areas that represented the greatest needs/threats to water quality: septics, agriculture, and wetland restoration.  Besides the step pool conveyances, other projects included: retrofitting 20 septic systems around the county, preserving marsh land and installing new ponds to improve wildlife habitat, phragmites intervention in marshland near the bridge on Morgnec Road, modeling greenseeker planting technologies on local farms, and planting 200 acres of switchgrass in riparian buffers,” Cunningham said.

Washington College students worked with CES staff to make preliminary studies of Radcliffe Creek water quality by collecting data. This information will be used to help set a benchmark for further water quality testing after the completion of the step pool project.

Step Pool Conveyance systems are relatively new storm water treatment innovations. Stormwater cascades through a series of sandstone reinforced “ponds” or aquatic pools and is filtered by native vegetation.

The three open channel aquatic pools will filter stormwater runoff. Tree stumps were added to anchor other aquatic plants and help sustain a new ecosystem.

The three open channel aquatic pools will filter stormwater runoff. Tree stumps were added to anchor other aquatic plants and help sustain a new ecosystem.

Landscaping is a significant part of the filtration system.  Along with 2,500 native herbaceous perennials including Joe Pye Weed, Marsh Hibiscus and Smooth Cordgrass, 20 native trees will be planted as part of EQR’s contract with the town.

“ There are also plans for a walking path that will eventually create a link from the Rail Trail to Kent Plaza, or could possibly be used by Lamotte employees as part of a circular walking route during lunch breaks,” de Mooy said recently.

Some of the 16,000 cubic feet of sandstone boulders being placed  to bolster each conveyance pond.

Some of the 16,000 cubic feet of sandstone boulders being placed to bolster each conveyance pond.

The Town of Chestertown will maintain the site and the required water quality monitoring will be done by the Chester River Association

This video shows a similar construction:

Letters to Editor

  1. Mike Bitting says:

    Great Job Chestertown! It’s great to see these sort of projects enacted to help improve the water quality of our river. Hopefully eventually these sort of projects will lead to better crabbing down the road.

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