Stormwater Public Participation
The U.S. Clean Water Act mandates a state permit program called the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) that is administered in Maryland by the Maryland Department of the Environment. The NPDES Phase I permit program was instituted in the early 1990s and regulates all storm water discharges in cities with populations that are greater than 100,000.
Ten years later, the NPDES Phase II permit program began to regulate the discharge of storm water for cities with populations that are less than 100,000. Annapolis, with a population of 33,000, started its Phase II program in 2002. The program is a combination of public education, storm water discharge monitoring and infrastructure maintenance.
As part of the compliance measures of the Phase II program, Annapolis launched several education programs designed for public participation:
- Adopt a Creek
- Creek Monitoring
- Storm Drain Stenciling
The City provides information, material, and any other assistance requested by volunteers. Many school groups have participated in these programs as a community service requirement and as a means to introduce students to environmental issues.
- Annapolis Area Christian School
- St. Anne's School
- St. Martin School
- West Annapolis Elementary School
Adopt a Creek
Volunteer groups - such as schools, clubs or community organizations - are encouraged to "adopt a creek." With the aid of city staff, who can provide maps and technical information, volunteers can participate in clean up projects or environmental field trips that can help insure the environmental well being of our local waters.
Storm Drain Stenciling Marking Program
For many years, the City has provided volunteer groups with plastic stencils and paint to mark storm drain inlets: "Don't Dump. Chesapeake Bay Drainage," or "Drains to Back Creek" or any of the other creeks as applicable. Over the years, we have learned that the paint wears away after about five years and must be repainted.
This year, the City has suspended the inlet stenciling program in favor of the placement of a more or less permanent stainless steel marker on the inlet that says "No Dumping. Drains to Bay" with an image of a blue crab. Because installation requires some specialized tools, volunteers will not be asked to place the markers. We do however, encourage volunteer groups to identify which inlets they think should be priorities in the City marking program.
Working with community groups and both public and private schools, the City has helped to set up water quality monitoring projects, based upon simple wet chemistry to determine dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH and temperature. Over a period of time, consistent monitoring in fixed locations can provide meaningful data that will highlight trends and demonstrate improvements - or declines - in water quality.