Wicomico Seeking $545K For Watershed Work

SALISBURY – Wicomico County is looking to state grant funds as a means to help it fulfill requirements of a watershed implementation plan.

Last week the County Council held a public hearing on a resolution authorizing the County Executive to submit a grant application and accept a grant award from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund Capital Improvement Grant in an amount up to $545,000.

According to the resolution, the DNR Trust Fund provides capital improvement grant funding to organizations having demonstrated ability to implement non-point source pollution control projects to improve the Chesapeake Bay water quality.

The Wicomico County Department of Public Works and the Department of Planning, Zoning and Community Development wants to improve the Chesapeake Bay water quality by constructing eight stormwater management retrofits, on county-owned property, to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient loadings from reaching local tributaries and the Chesapeake Bay.

The departments wish to submit a capital improvement grant application to the DNR Trust Fund requesting funds in an amount up to $545,000, with a local match of $133,500 and an in-kind match of approximately $22,000 of staff time, for said Chesapeake Bay watershed improvement projects.

The County Executive recommends submission of the capital improvement grant application and acceptance of a grant award from the DNR Trust Fund for said Chesapeake Bay watershed improvement projects.

The fiscal year 2014 Capital Budget, adopted on June 11, 2013, projected costs for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Abatement Projects to be $200,000.

The public hearing held last Tuesday was to amend the fiscal year 2014 Capital Budget to increase the project costs for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. There were no public comments made during the public hearing.

Public Works Director Lee Beauchamp explained the eight stormwater management retrofits will be constructed on five publicly-owned properties and will all be part of the Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), which is a state mandate.

The County Council granted $200,000 in this fiscal year’s budget to begin designing and constructing five projects but the county accepted a $57,000 grant last month and additional projects were added.

“We would like to at least get one or two projects under construction by the end of this fiscal year even if we don’t get this $545,000 grant,” Beauchamp said.

The county is currently in the design phase for eight projects that include a bioretention project at Upper Ferry-Crossing on North Upper Ferry Rd., a bioswale and step pool stormwater conveyance at Pemberton Historical park off of Pemberton Dr., bioretention and a step pool stormwater conveyance at Schumaker Park located on Schumaker Dr., dry pond conversion to gravel wetland at Salisbury-Ocean City, Wicomico County Regional Airport located on Airport Rd., and a bioswale and pond retrofit at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium located on Hobbs Rd.

According to Beauchamp, any projects within the critical area or the wetlands would be priority, such as the Upper Ferry location followed by the Shorebirds Stadium where the construction is more complicated.

“In the long run, by 2025, we have to comply with the WIP and I think if we can get this level of early support to demonstrate projects that will help the County, and that is probably in our best interest to do so,” County Executive Administrative Director Wayne Strausburg. “In terms of meeting WIP requirements, the County has quite extensive existing infrastructure of swales and ditches, and if we can utilize that backbone in making a meaningful impact with WIP then that will save County money. My gut tells me an early investment would determine early on whether or not it works or satisfies MDE and EPA in terms of what they are mandating.”

The County Council voted unanimously to have County Executive Rick Pollitt submit a grant application to DNR Trust Fund for funds in an amount up to $545,000. The fiscal year 2014 Capital Budget shall be amended to include the updated project costs, in the amount of $745,000 for the Chesapeake Bay Abatement Projects.