Blue Water Baltimore is the new name for the merger of the Jones Falls Watershed Association, Herring Run Watershed Association, Gwynns Falls Watershed Association, Baltimore Harbor Watershed Association and Baltimore Harbor WATERKEEPER. The website states that “Blue Water Baltimore’s purpose is to use community based restoration, education, and advocacy to achieve clean water in Baltimore’s rivers, streams, and harbor, so that citizens of the Baltimore region will enjoy a vibrant natural environment, livable neighborhoods, and a healthy, thriving Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.”
One way Blue Water Baltimore is trying to accomplish this is through the Indoor and Outdoor Water Audit Program. Staff members will assess your property’s “water footprint” to try to reduce polluted runoff from homes, schools, churches and other buildings. The program is the result of a 3 year grant funded by the Fish and Wildlife Foundation to reduce direct and indirect runoff into the stormwater system of Baltimore.
As part of the audit, several types of opportunities exist. One opportunity is the downspout disconnection program. Often, downspouts on buildings are connected directly into storm drains. In other cases, flow from rooftops is directed it to the street with little flow through vegetation. Believe it or not, rooftops are sources of pollutants that originate from airborne sources. As flow from downspouts travel along gutters the water picks up pollutants such as trash and chemicals before flowing into inlets. These storm drains outfall into streams and river which ultimately flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
By redirecting downspouts to discharge into pervious locations such as lawn, landscaping areas or raingardens, or into a rain barrel, the pollutants and garbage into our streams can be reduced!
As an added benefit, you will use less resources for keeping your lawn and landscaping watered, reduce the frequency of watering and reduce your water bill!
Homeowners in the Jones Falls and Herring Run Watersheds can contact Blue Water Baltimore for a consultation. As part of the grant they are able to offer simple downspout disconnections to pervious land at no cost to the homeowner. They also offer $25 off rain barrels with free installation, and a $500 match for the design and installation of raingardens. Blue Water Baltimore is also able to offer services such as impervious area removal and tree planting!
This is one way that individuals taking small steps can help make a big difference in the water quality of our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.