Largo, Maryland, November 28, 2016 – In July 2016, the Prince George’s County Clean Water Partnership (CWP) announced the launch of its CWP Schools Program, through which 18 Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) were selected to receive new, green stormwater retrofits to help manage area runoff.
As the program’s first successful year comes to a close, the CWP is already preparing for next year’s construction season, with approximately 40 additional schools in the pipeline to receive stormwater retrofits between 2017 and 2018. Over the course of this three year partnership, the outside grounds of 58 schools will be retrofitted, and used as teaching tools to more than 15,000 students in Prince George’s County.
“The success of our innovative stormwater projects is dependent upon the CWP forming and sustaining relationships in our local communities, such as our collaboration with the County stakeholders and the Prince George’s County Public Schools System” said David Washington, Program Executive for the Clean Water Partnership. “This initiative isn’t only about turning gray space into green space and meeting regulatory stormwater obligations for the County; it’s also about promoting environmental stewardship and providing educational opportunities around stormwater management at our schools. Since implementing this program, we’ve been able to share the benefits of green infrastructure with tomorrow’s leaders, as well as help them to better understand the roles they can play in preserving our environment.”
Demonstrating another innovative example of the community-based approach to help the County meet its stormwater compliance goals, the program has remarkably manifested into a means to educate County students about the importance of sustainable stormwater management and environmental stewardship amongst their communities.
Rain gardens, sand filters, bioswales and bioretention facilities are just some of the stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) installed at the school’s sites by local contractors. These recently completed installations will treat, manage and reduce stormwater runoff from the school’s roofs, parking lots and other impervious surfaces, which will reduce the amount of stormwater pollution that enters into the Chesapeake Bay.
In addition to the installation of these various water quality improvement devices, the educational signage and volunteer student tree planting sessions are two other major elements that make the CWP Schools Program such a distinctive driver.
Next to any given completed retrofit, students are able to enjoy instructive BMP signage, created to help them understand how each installed BMP will perform at the site. The signage also includes descriptive visuals and illustrations and discusses the most common pollutants affecting stormwater runoff in the area, as well as the benefits of utilizing the particular stormwater management practice. For example, a sign installed for a micro-bioretention facility explains how stormwater is filtered through the soil media and given time to infiltrate into the subgrade. As the water flows through the facility, pollutants are removed through a variety of physical and biological treatment processes.
Another educational component included in the program is the volunteer tree planting sessions offered to each respective school following the completion of a retrofit. More than 50 County students have participated in the educational sessions to date, helping them to better understand the importance of utilizing green stormwater management practices to help reduce area runoff.
Tree planting sessions include enthusiastic participation from the school’s staff and students, program partners, and CWP team members. Plantings typically last up to one hour and include a hands-on demonstration from the Anacostia Watershed Society that showcases the difference between pervious and impervious surfaces throughout the community. The landscape architect for the school’s program, a local, certified woman-owned business, Bradley Site Design, also attends each of the sessions and provides an overview of the type of plants being installed. The architect also explains why certain types of plants are selected versus others and the role they play in stormwater management, watershed stewardship and wildlife habitats. Faculty members from each of the participating schools are also given a list of the plants planted on the school grounds to use for additional learning opportunities in the future.
Benefits from the onsite plantings of trees, shrubs and vegetation include stormwater volume reduction, nutrient uptakes, and pollution removal. It also gives students an opportunity to observe first-hand some of the innovative methods and techniques that are being used to help protect, preserve and restore our water.
“The CWP Schools Program is an exciting opportunity for our students to get hands-on experience in a critically important field that is impacting our environment here in the County and beyond,” said Monica Goldson, Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning in Prince George’s County Public Schools. “We appreciate Corvias’ continued commitment to our community and are grateful that the students will have a first-hand opportunity to increase their knowledge about stormwater management through this Program. Who knows, maybe this will inspire some of them to pursue a career in engineering or environmental science.”
CWP staff will continue their communication with school representatives and neighboring communities while the partnership continues to make stormwater infrastructure improvements during the duration of the program. For a list of schools selected to participate in the program or to learn more about the CWP Schools Program, please visit https://thecleanwaterpartnership.com/cwp-schools-program.
About the Clean Water Partnership
The Partnership is a groundbreaking community based public-private partnership between Prince George’s County and Corvias to retrofit up to 2,000 acres of impervious surfaces using green infrastructure. The Partnership is also tasked with driving local economic development by using local, small and minority businesses to build local capacity. www.thecleanwaterpartnership.com
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