What is stormwater or stormwater runoff?
Stormwater is generated when precipitation (rain or snow melt) falls onto impervious areas like roads, buildings, sidewalks, and parking lots where it cannot soak into the ground. It "runs off" into nearby storm drains or streams and can cause a number of problems to the stream itself and to adjacent and downstream properties if not managed properly.
The three most critical pollutants to the entire Chesapeake Bay region are sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus. Other pollutants are found in Bowie (fecal coliform, E. coli, and low oxygen), while other streams across the State are impaired by mercury, trash, PCBs, and many other pollutants. Legislation passed by Congress in 2010 mandates cleanup of the three major pollutants that reach the Chesapeake Bay (sediment and nutrients). For more information on stream health, visit the Maryland Department of the Environment website for a map of impaired waters, or view the 2020 State of the Bay report here.
Where does Bowie's stormwater originate?
Every home in Bowie is connected to the City’s streams, the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay through the network of storm drains in roads and parking lots throughout the city. Contrary to popular belief, water that enters storm drains does not go to the wastewater treatment plant – it often goes straight into streams and drainage channels. This is the case for Levitt areas. In newer neighborhoods, some amount of stormwater treatment is provided.
No matter where you live, what you do in your yard, driveway, or parking lot, it really does make a difference!
What can I do to help reduce water pollution in Bowie?
What we really need is to have eyes and ears in the community. If you see anything unnatural in or near a stream or a storm drain (e.g., oil, suds, strange colored water, dumping), please let us know.
Do you see a problem with a stream or storm drain? Please let us know! Contact the Public Works Department at 301-809-2344.
Report a Problem or Concern
Below are some ways you can help minimize stormwater pollution. If you have any questions about stormwater, storm drains or streams, contact your Watershed Manager, Tiffany Wright, at 301-809-3043 or by email.
- Install a Rain Barrel - Buy and install a rain barrel through the Bowie Lions Club.
- Reduce Stormwater Pollution - Find out why there is stormwater pollution in Bowie and how you can minimize your contribution.
- Plant native vegetation - Reduce the water and fertilizer requirements of your yard by shifting to native plants, shrubs, and grasses that are adapted to the local climate.
What is the City doing to help reduce water pollution in Bowie?
Since 2017, the City has undertaken several large stormwater improvement projects in its Capital Improvements Program (CIP). More information is available on the City's Capital Projects page.