BERLIN — As the Town Council begins to wrap up major projects in wastewater, property aesthetics and leveling out electric rates, the administration, staff and its partners have set their sights on one of the more pervasive townwide problems — flooding and storm water management.
Over the next few months, the Town of Berlin, in conjunction with the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (UMEFC), Grow Berlin Green, the Town Creek Foundation and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will begin to investigate alternative solutions to the flooding problems faces in neighborhoods all over town.
Although the town has a study from the Army Corps of Engineers that proposes some solutions to the drainage problems, those approaches are both expensive and potentially invasive. The partnership they have developed is aimed at re-thinking some of the Army’s recommendations and investigating which aspects must be included and which might have alternate answers.
Megan Hughes, program manager at UMEFC, explained that the Army provided “gray” solutions while her department, with its partners, will explore “green” solutions.
“These are definitely complementary,” she said. “The goal of this project is to get people thinking about storm water as in infrastructure issue.”
Green processes use, among other things, rain gardens and engineering best management practices to help direct flood water in such a way that runoff becomes a less significant problem.
When rainwater goes directly into the streams and other estuaries it brings with it all the chemicals and pollutants that are lifted from streets and properties. By finding ways to allow the water to seep back into the ground, it gives the earth an opportunity to filter unwanted chemicals out of the water.
“The problem is both water quantity and water quality,” she said.
Whatever the combination of solutions may be, in order to get them to work and be taken seriously, the town administration thought it would be best if the public was included in the process from the beginning.
To that end, representatives from the UMEFC will hold information meetings at town hall as well as sponsor information tables at events such as this weekend’s Tindley Festival, and the 2nd Friday Art Stroll and Oktoberfest next month.
They will also hold a photo contest with prizes. Photos of flooding in Berlin should be brought to Town Hall beginning Monday. The photos will be displayed at the 2nd Friday Art Stroll and Oktoberfest to be voted upon. There will be prizes awarded to the top three vote-getters.
For more information about the contest, see Sharon Timmons in Town Hall. For more information about the program stop by the UMEFC table at any of the town events or attend the meeting for your voting district.