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Stormwater

UMBC recognizes the importance of a holistic approach to campus development and sustainability will reinforce the existing natural systems of the campus including our approach to the treatment of stormwater management. The approach is to protect, enhance, and create functional landscapes that demonstrate and celebrate the way water serves as a resource. These landscapes also provide important habitat, microclimate, and aesthetic benefits that will be consistent with their specific locations on campus. Through a combination of forest preservation, stream rehabilitation, landscape conversions, and progressive water management solutions, like the creation of wetlands, the campus moves closer to a level of ecological balance.  Each redevelopment and new development of quadrangles, courtyards, plazas, and walkways will target opportunities to incorporate working landscapes that enhance ecology and water management. Proposed ecological transformations to improve campus stormwater management and open space include:

  •  Extension of an existing stream bed into a new 10-acre wetland, enhancing stormwater treatment, habitat, and ecological function of the south of the campus within an existing low-lying stream buffer
  •  Improvements to the Central Green to improve the integration of stormwater management into existing outdoor spaces to control erosion, improve drainage, and enhance functionality
  • Transformation of existing mowed grass areas, especially on steep slopes, into working native landscapes, to support pollinators and improve local water quality
  • Growth of forest conservation areas that will preserve existing wooded areas and protect our stream valleys

What is stormwater?

Close up of storm drainThe Baltimore area, on average, receives 42 inches of precipitation per year. When it rains, or snow melts, where does it all go? In natural areas, the fallen precipitation is able to quickly infiltrate, or soak through, into the ground (~18 in/hr). On maintained areas, like lawns, the infiltration into the ground takes much longer (~2 in/hr). However, all the water that cannot infiltrate hard surfaces like roofs, sidewalks, and roads flows into a storm drain and into the nearest waterway – that water is called stormwater. Often times stormwater is discharged directly into lakes, fivers, streams, or the Bay without ever being cleaned or filtered. This means that stormwater can pick up debris and pollutants off the streets or sidewalks and bring those materials directly into the bodies of water where we get our drinking water from and recreate in and around. Visit MDE to learn more about stormwater. 

goose in water at sunset

Where does stormwater go?

At UMBC stormwater ultimately flows into the Patapsco River and into the Chesapeake Bay.  This is why it is so important to ensure that only rain goes down a storm drain!

How does UMBC manage stormwater?

Green roof at UMBC Event CenterAt UMBC, stormwater is well managed to control flooding, reduce erosion, and improve water quality.  UMBC has installed over 90 best management practices (BMPs) across campus. BMPs are structural, vegetative, or managerial practices used to treat, prevent, or reduce water pollution. Some of the BMPs are highly visible, like the several green roofs on campus; whereas, other BMPs are designed invisibly blend in like permeable pavement.