By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(April 18, 2019) Reducing flooding is the point of the Graham Avenue Submerged Gravel Wetland Project, which town officials explained to residents at a meeting last Thursday at the Berlin Activities Depot.
Presentations to the audience came from the Town of Berlin, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and E.A. Engineering, Science, and Technology Inc.
Darl Kolar, an environmental consultant from E.A. Engineering said in addition to reducing flooding, the project also aims to treat stormwater runoff and to reduce runoff pollution.
To accomplish these things, Kolar said two types of solutions may be employed: gray and green infrastructure. Gray refers to the use of pipes, structures, ditches, and retention ponds, while green focuses on ecological systems to mitigate stormwater pollution and control flooding.
While green infrastructure is ideal, environmental and town officials agree that “in the real world, we need to work with what we have and modify over time.”
The submerged gravel wetland would be constructed on a piece of town-owned property that’s adjacent to the Burley Oak brewery and located on the corner of Graham Avenue and Old Ocean City Boulevard.
“I think these meetings are really important because it gives us an opportunity to describe the project in detail to the people who are going to be most directly affected by it,” Town Administrator Laura Allen said.
Town officials passed out flyers to roughly 40 homeowners about the Thursday evening meeting, even though it’s unclear if every homeowner in the area is directly affected by the stormwater flooding.
Kolar said construction began in March and is expected to finish by Sept. 3.
“We’ve been doing steps in the right direction for several years now, so this is one of those … steps,” Kolar said.
Mayor Gee Williams emphasized the need for patience as “it’s an educational process, and we’re learning through it.”
Officials said several projects have been completed so far, including offline wetlands for Flower and William streets, culvert replacements for Flower and Williams streets, as well as stormwater improvements for Pine Street, and Maple and Cedar avenues.
In addition, several federal grants have been awarded in recent years:
- $124,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
- $800,000 from a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- $965,000 from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
- $75,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
- $10,000 from the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.
Allen encouraged residents to write letters of support vouching for additional funding.
She said she is striving to continue the stormwater conversation and to make presentations accessible online.
“But I don’t think we can talk enough about the stormwater work we’re doing,” she said. “So a small group from a key neighborhood is great. They’ll just us get the word out I’m sure.”