St. Camillus Church, located just inside the Beltway near New Hampshire Avenue, is a large multi-cultural congregation with a strong commitment to sustainability. The church's campus consists of several buildings, parking lots and landscaped areas that are prone to flooding when there is heavy rainfall. To capture and filter stormwater runoff, the Church recently established four conservation planting areas with the help of Silver Spring Green, Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company, the Montgomery County Rainscapes Program, two landscaping professionals and many able-bodied volunteer parishioners. Silver Spring Green was pleased to be there on planting day in late September to deliver a check to cover the costs of design, native plants used, planting media and tool rental. Let the rains begin!
Why Rainscaping Matters
Urban development has a profound influence on the quality of Maryland’s waters. To start, development dramatically alters the local hydrologic cycle. The hydrology of a site changes during the initial clearing and grading that occur during construction. Trees, meadow grasses, and agricultural crops that intercept and absorb rainfall are removed and natural depressions that temporarily pond water are graded to a uniform slope. Cleared and graded sites erode, are often severely compacted, and can no longer prevent rainfall from being rapidly converted into stormwater runoff.
The situation worsens after construction. Roof tops, roads, parking lots, driveways and other impervious surfaces no longer allow rainfall to soak into the ground. Consequently, most rainfall is converted directly to runoff. The increase in stormwater can be too much for the existing natural drainage system to handle. As a result, the natural drainage system is often altered to rapidly collect runoff and quickly convey it away (using curb and gutter, enclosed storm sewers, and lined channels). The stormwater runoff is subsequently discharged to downstream waters such as streams, reservoirs, lakes or estuaries.