The Department of Environmental Protection collaborated with Montgomery County Public Schools to install three gardens at Olney Elementary School. The new gardens were dedicated during a ceremony on Thursday, November 1st with students from the school and local dignitaries.
The partnership with MCPS started in 2012 where the two agencies identified locations on school properties to install new Environmental Site Design stormwater management facilities. The three rain gardens at Olney Elementary will increase the number of projects to 33 at ten schools overall. The rain gardens at Olney Elementary and one at Sherwood Elementary School are expected to be the only ones established on school properties during the 2018-19 school year.
“The water from these rain gardens at Olney Elementary School will drain into Rock Creek, which flows into the Potomac River and ultimately ends up in the Chesapeake Bay,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “If that water leaves, polluted, from Olney, that polluted water could harm aquatic life and plants that are important to our eco system. So, it all starts here.”
The stormwater facilities at schools provide an educational aid for teachers to instruct about water quality issues, streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The fourth-grade class of Corey McClellan will participate in Thursday’s ceremonies.
“These rain gardens will become living classrooms on our own school campus,” said Olney Elementary Principal Carla Glawe. “Our fourth-grade students will be at the ceremonies to share the knowledge they have gained about the importance of stormwater management.”
Environmental Site Design projects are an important part of the County’s stormwater management program. Small-scale facilities—such as rain gardens—intercept stormwater runoff closer to its source and thereby provide more opportunity for stormwater to soak into the ground.
“We know from research and data that it takes time to see noticeable environmental improvement and behavioral change,” said Patty Bubar, the County’s interim director of DEP. “However, we have made great strides and are making good progress in changing the environmental climate in the County. Projects and partnerships like these are major steps forward.”