First Presbyterian Church Green Infrastructure

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What is polluted runoff?

Parts of the Chesapeake Bay watershed contain a high percentage of impervious cover – paved or other hard surfaces such as roofs and roadways that prevent rain water from being absorbed into the ground.  Instead, water runs along these surfaces, collecting trash and substances such as motor oil, lawn fertilizers, and pesticides.  This polluted stormwater flows into streams and rivers, where it threatens aquatic ecosystems and public health.  

Effective stormwater management, on the other hand, creates safe paths for polluted runoff to be captured and filtered through the ground before it reaches waterways.  This helps keep the environment clean and our communities healthy!

Students from the READY program plant native species. Credit: Earth Forum of Howard County.
The newly planted conservation gardens. Credit: Earth Forum of Howard County.


Project Location: Columbia, MD

Problem:  First Presbyterian Church had frequent problems with standing water in the facility’s basement and throughout the property.

Solution:  Using proceeds from the Howard County Watershed Protection and Restoration program, the county retrofitted the First Presbyterian property with various green infrastructure facilities, including a conservation landscaping garden with native plants and trees, a dry creek bed leading to a rain garden, and a 5,000 square foot green roof.  These features capture 13,000 gallons of water per inch of rainfall.  The property is now a “living laboratory” for stormwater management, enabling the church to host forums and educational events to increase understanding about the solutions to polluted runoff.

Scale: Runoff from a 24,000 square foot roof and parking lot

Funding sources:  Howard County Tree Canopy Program; Howard County Watershed Protection and Restoration Fund; Howard County Watershed Steward Academy

Partners: Eagle Scouts; Earth Forum of Howard County; Howard County READY (Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth) Program

Contact information:

John McCoy | Columbia Association | 410-312-6336
For tours, contact Nancy Fayer | Earth Forum of Howard County. 410-730-3545

Key project facts

Project Type:
Story Focus:
Environmental Benefits, Community Engagement
Stormwater Utility Funds:
Problem Addressed:
Aesthetics, Erosion, Flooding / Drainage, Health Hazard, Runoff Pollution
Year Installed:
State Legislative District:
Congressional District: