Kemp Mill Shallow Marsh Wetland

April 30, 2021

Wetlands Provide Ecosystem Services

A dragonfly lands on pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) at the Kemp Mill Shallow Marsh Wetland

Wetlands are often described as the “kidneys of the landscape.” They help remove pollutants from runoff and moderate the flow of water to mitigate floods and drought. Wetland vegetation provides filtering, pollutant uptake, and slows down incoming runoff, allowing sediment and associated pollutants to settle out. The vegetative cover also provides shade, helping not only to cleanse, but to cool the water for temperature sensitive organisms downstream.

Wetlands also provide excellent wildlife habitat. Many species depend on wetlands at different points in their life cycle, including turtles, frogs, toads, salamanders, waterfowl, and songbirds. Flowering plants provide benefits to local pollinator populations.



Stormwater Wetlands: Using Ecosystem Services to Improve Water Quality

Engineered Stormwater Wetlands build upon a standard stormwater management pond design to take advantage of the ecosystem services that natural wetland systems provide, such as food and habitat for wildlife, water quality improvement, flood protection, erosion control. Stormwater wetlands are designed with a variety of water depths. Shallow areas allow wetland vegetation to grow, which helps to slow down stormwater and filters out and uptakes nutrients and other stormwater pollutants. Deeper pools help settle out pollutants and provide temporary storage for stormwater runoff, which helps reduce erosion downstream.  Rates of carbon accumulation measured in the soils of constructed wetlands suggest they also provide carbon sequestration benefits. The functional role of natural wetlands in improving water quality has been a compelling argument for the construction of stormwater wetlands.

Kemp Mill Shallow Marsh Wetland

DEP’s Kemp Mill Shallow Marsh Wetland project is located on Maryland National Capital Park and Planning property off Somersworth Way, just east of Wheaton Regional Park. The project is adjacent to the main stem of Northwest Branch and the property provides neighborhood access to the nearby Northwest Branch and Rachel Carson Greenway Trails.

“We enjoy looking at the aquatic flowers and animals. Since the pond was completed, we have seen cranes, wild turkeys, geese, ducks, turtles and frogs. It is rewarding to know that in addition to its natural beauty, the vegetation filters out the chemicals from the rain runoff.”

-The Kadars

The project converted the original 1986 dry stormwater pond into the existing stormwater wetland facility in 2019. Most of the wetland is less than 2 feet deep to allow the wetland vegetation to grow and provide additional water quality benefits. A few deeper pools help dissipate runoff energy to reduce erosion downstream. The project was planted with over 2,000 native aquatic and wetland plants. Species include pickerel weed, soft rush, bristly sedge, and wool grass.


Planting the Kemp Mill Shallow Marsh Wetland

Vegetation is protected as it begins to grow in.

The vegetation is now fully established, and the deeper pools seen here designed to slow and store stormwater runoff – Photo by Eva Kadar.


DEP selected a stormwater wetland for this location due to its proximity to Northwest Branch, a Maryland Class IV Recreational Trout Water. The shade from the wetland vegetation helps cool stormwater runoff before it leaves the wetland and reaches the cold-water dependent brown trout fishery downstream.

Wetlands help cool water temperatures for downstream temperature sensitive organisms, like this brown trout. (Goodluz ©

Learn more about DEP’s watershed restoration efforts at:

2 comments on "Kemp Mill Shallow Marsh Wetland"

  1. Anne Ambler says:

    Is there public access to this wetland? And why does this message say it is password protected? That is quite a put-off. What account? What password? Yet I was able to see the report and pictures just by clicking on the Comments. This wetland is a project that surely Neighbors of the Northwest Branch should be made aware of.

  2. Ana Arriaza says:

    Anne, thank you for the comment. Sorry that the blog was password protected as at some point. The blog should be published and ready for public view. I’ve been using password protection to so that it is reviewed by staff before the public can see it. I’ll continue to figure out a different way for staff to review the blogs. Thank you. Ana

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