What is stormwater or stormwater runoff?

Stormwater is generated when precipitation (rain or snowmelt) 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 streams, too, including fecal bacteria in some of Bowie area streams, but recent federal legislation mandates cleanup of the three critical ones. The Maryland Department of the Environment has a map of impaired waters on their website. Maps are available online for any pollutant or any affected body of water statewide.

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 what many people think, stormwater 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 Bowie's polluted stormwater runoff?