Watershed Management

In cities across the country, hard surfaces like roads and buildings prevent rain and snowmelt from soaking into the ground. It is instead collected by storm drains on roads and in parking lots where a series of underground pipes takes the water to a local stream. The water used inside your house (wastewater) is treated, rain and snow melt (stormwater) are not. As stormwater flows across parking lots and roads, it collect things. This means that anything you see that accumulates on the ground including pollutants such as trash, pet waste, cigarette butts, etc., gets washed into streams when it rains.

While one cigarette butt tossed from a car may seem innocent or dog poop left in your own backyard harmless, they are not. They add to everyone else’s cigarette butts and dogs' poop, joining grass clippings, oil from cars, pesticides, and many other pollutants in streams. This stormwater pollution is the biggest threat to streams in Bowie, the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay where it accumulates. The same thing is happening in bodies of water in communities across the country. 

All the land that drains to a particular body of water is called a watershed. Watersheds can become significantly degraded by stormwater pollution, and the City is tasked with preventing this. The Maryland Department of the Environment regulates stormwater pollution, and the City is required, under a permit with MDE, to improve stream quality by removing as many pollutants as possible. We do this through a number of programs that fall into the heading watershed management.

Part of watershed management is structural work under the City’s Capital Projects program. This includes upgrading older stormwater ponds and implementing stream restoration projects. But the most efficient and inexpensive way to minimize stream pollution is to simply prevent it. This is where the other part of watershed management comes in – pollution prevention. Below are summaries of our programs and links to get more information for what you can do to contribute to the solution rather than increasing stormwater pollution.

City Efforts to Manage  Watersheds and Combat Stormwater Pollution

The City takes a two-pronged approach to preventing stormwater pollution: capital projects and pollution prevention. Under the Capital Projects program, older stormwater ponds are upgraded, and streams are restored. But the most efficient and inexpensive way to minimize stream pollution is to simply prevent it, through education and community involvement. 

These large, expensive construction projects are required by the City’s stormwater permit (officially known as an NPDES MS4 permit) from the Maryland Department of the Environment. These projects include work in neighborhoods or along stream channels. Visit the City's Capital Projects page for more details.

The water that runs off from hard surfaces like rooftops, driveways and parking lots is called stormwater runoff and carries a variety of pollutants into local streams. Much of Bowie was built by Levitt and Sons in the 1960s before important environmental regulations such as the Clean Water Act were in place. Bowie, along with dozens of communities across the state, is now required to take steps to improve the quality of water that will eventually flow to the Chesapeake Bay.

The City is actively engaged in several projects related to these requirements. The work will take at least five years, and as each project begins and ends, this page will be updated. You may read the stormwater retrofit assessment here. For additional information on any of the projects below or anything related to stormwater, streams, or water pollution, please contact the City's Watershed Manager, Tiffany Wright (by email or at 301-809-3043).

Capital Projects

  1. Woodhaven Lane Pond
  2. Spangler Lane Pond
  3. Kenhill Center Bioretention
  4. Midwood Lane Pond

Woodhaven Lane Pond Improvements

In early 2019, a consultant began designing improvements to the Levitt-era pond on Woodhaven Lane, about 250 feet south of Whitehall Drive. The changes will include tree clearing, enlarging and excavating the pond footprint, and replacing the fence. Construction was completed in 2020, and nine impervious acres now have full water quality treatment. 

A stakeholders meeting was held on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Slides from the presentation given at the meeting can be downloaded below. The engineering drawings for the project are also available below.