First United Methodist Church Stormwater Retrofits: “Planning Before the Design”

 

By Chris Myers and Ashley Parker

Stormwater retrofit work began shortly after AWS received grant money from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in June of 2013.  As mentioned in a previous blog, AWS selected the First United Methodist Church as one of the sites to initiate stormwater management efforts.  Selecting the site was relatively easy.  Next, AWS needed to convince the church that managing its stormwater runoff was the right thing to do.

To begin the stormwater conversation, AWS began meeting with the church Board of Trustees to discuss stormwater, site goals, and project constraints.  The bottom line was, if the church wanted to conform to current Prince George’s County standards, several things needed to change with the amount of impervious surface on their site.  AWS asked the Board to consider a strategy to make their 4,000,000 gallons of stormwater easier to handle by dividing the property up.  To make the largest impact, Parking Lot Area “A” and BayScape Area “B” were chosen. The only thing these two areas have in common is the absence of BMPs.

Today, the church is surrounded by a sea of parking. Some of it is used for parking cars, but it has also provided space for drivers on Queens Chapel Road and East-West Highway to speed and cut through the parking lot. To slow down traffic and improve safety, median strips and speed bumps are being proposed throughout the site. Median strips will create bioswales, which like rain gardens, slow down stormwater and allow for increased infiltration. By installing median strips, we can remove excess existing pavement which will help reduce the amount of urban runoff leaving this site.  Introducing bioswales will not only slow traffic and water, but will create a more enjoyable outdoor space. This first concept was presented to the Board of Trustees on November 19, 2013.

After receiving approval from the Board, AWS worked with the selected contractor, AB Consultants, to submit the first round of drawings for permit review to the Prince George’s County Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement in March of 2014.  If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in September of 2014. Online resources are available to learn more about the Anacostia Watershed Society and the Anacostia watershed’s general restoration progress

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