ShoreRivers Developing Modern Stormwater Plan for Historic Chestertown

Polluted runoff from rain events, also known as stormwater, has the potential to devastate local water quality in the Chesapeake region, including right here in Chestertown. ShoreRivers, in partnership with Washington College and with generous grant funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), is developing a Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan for the Town of Chestertown to improve the health of the Chester River.

ShoreRivers restoration specialist Josh Biddle inventories stormwater infrastructure at the Chestertown Marina using GPS and GIS technology.

When completed this fall, the plan will include an evaluation of existing stormwater infrastructure as well as recommendations for new environmentally-friendly stormwater features such as rain gardens, tree plantings, impervious surface reductions, and habitat creation areas. Through uptake by plants and infiltration, these features reduce and remove pollution from stormwater runoff.

The final plan will also include an online mapping tool, developed with cutting-edge Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology that identifies existing and proposed stormwater features.

“We’re really excited to play a role in establishing Chestertown as a leader in water quality and environmental improvement efforts,” said ShoreRivers Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer. “Not only will the recommendations of this plan help the Chester River, but modern stormwater upgrades like rain gardens create native habitat for birds and pollinators, and beautify our public spaces.”

Further complicating the issue, historic Chestertown’s existing stormwater infrastructure is, well, historic. With the exception of modern stormwater facilities in newer areas of town and the step pool system near Kent Plaza, Chestertown’s stormwater system was developed simply to control flooding and does little to improve water quality.

According to data from the Chesapeake Bay Program, stormwater is the fastest growing source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The list of impairments created by stormwater is long: nutrient and sediment pollution, trash, super-heated water from parking lots, erosion and soil loss, to name a few.

According to Mayor Chris Cerino, ShoreRivers’ project supports the Town’s commitment to the river. “This stormwater plan is an important step forward in Chestertown’s ongoing effort to reduce impervious surfaces and improve water quality.”

All plan documents, including online mapping resources, will be available to the public, and ShoreRivers will work with the Town and other partners to implement the recommendations of the plan over the coming years.

Questions, concerns, or ideas about stormwater in Chestertown may be sent to Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer at ttrumbauer@shorerivers.org.

ShoreRivers is a not-for-profit organization that protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. For more information, visit shorerivers.org.

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