Stormwater Sanctuary

    Washington College is committed to recharging its soils with rainwater to promote the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

    Semans-Griswold Environmental HallA Model Waterfront Campus

    In a flagship demonstration of our ecological commitment, at Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, a loose stone parking lot and drive slows rainwater till it soaks into a native meadow overlooking the Chester River. Footpaths use a pervious product produced by Stanchills, and two bio-retention ponds provide overflow support during heavy rain events.

    Rainwater catchmentThe College on the Hill

    At one of the highest elevation points in Chestertown, we have a number of water catchment features that model the permaculture practice of slowing and sinking water as high on landscape as possible.

    ShoreRivers planCommunity Collaboration

    In a partnership with ShoreRivers, Chester Riverkeeper Program, our campus has installed four mini-bioretention practices to reduce runoff into Radcliffe Creek, a tributary of the Chester River. We plan to continue partnering on more regenerative stormwater conveyances, attractive native plantings, and signage. ShoreRivers is helping us improve water quality, habitat, and aesthetics while also providing educational opportunities for our student body and campus visitors.

    Bee on flowerSeeding Meadows

    We're working on turning mowed turf into meadow plantings in prominent areas around campus to increase water infiltration, pollinator habitat, and decrease our carbon footprint. Future locations include the islands in the back parking lot and north of the main campus entrance. The meadows support our Bee Campus USA advocacy.

    Compost pileSoil Amendments

    Our Compost Team is a powerhouse addition to the greening of our campus. Students are promoting organics recycling at the Campus Garden to increase the water holding capacity of our campus soils during rainstorms.

    Campus garden pondToward a Biodiverse Landscape

    While we’ve started with the most impactful projects to reduce water and nutrient runoff, we see more opportunities to champion ecological stewardship.

    From the baseball field border to pocket gardens sprinkled around prominent campus pathways, we are working to integrate beautiful native plants in support of our arboretum and an ongoing commitment to our Tree Campus High Education certification.

    Our Grounds team is committed to removing invasive plant species and increasing the number of native plant species represented to promote water catchment and wildlife habitat. Their effort is underscored by the Center for Environment and Society's Natural Lands Project and the research of ethnobotanical uses of indigenous plants by the Eastern Shore Food Lab.

    Water ponding on campus greenWild Green Vision

    To address stormwater ponding at the base of the Campus Green,  Emily Castle ’18 developed a design for a bioswale for her Environmental Studies senior capstone project. Her plant selection showcases native and edible species. This project is on our shortlist to accomplish.  


    Stormwater Management Plan
    Enlarge project plans (PDF)

    Stormwater plan overview
    Enlarge future project plans (PDF)

    Project developed and managed by: ShoreRivers, Chester Riverkeeper ProgramDesign funded by: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation + an anonymous private donor •  Engineering by: Rauch, Inc. • Bioretention Construction (3 practices installed 11/20): Funded by Chesapeake Bay Trust Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) Grant + Washington College Constructed by: Underwood and Associates


    Stormwater Showcase

    Check out these features around campus:

    • Two student-designed rain gardens at the Bay-Wise Certified Campus Garden
    • Rain garden by baseball field to control sidewalk flooding and run-off
    • Three mini bioretention ponds at North Commons parking lots
    • Retention pond behind the Johnson Fitness Center
    • Retention pond by the Morgnec Road entrance
    • Two bio-retention ponds at Cromwell Hall
    • Permeable pavers at turn-around between Chester and Corsica Halls
    • Permeable parking lot behind the Rose O’Neill Literary House