Thursday, June 28, 2012

Our New Defensive Line

OK, it's tough to top Ray Lewis & Co. when the subject is hardworking defenses.  But they are not the only line protecting our valuable assets here.

As mentioned earlier, MSA is committed to making our 85 acre complex, located on the headwaters of the Middle Branch, a watershed protector through environmentally sensitive practices.  One of them involves landscaping.

This one-time problem area parallels Ostend Street on the south side of M&T.  In addition to being one of the main pedestrian approaches to the stadium on game days, it is also part of the westbound Gwynns Falls Trail.

The grate you see in the picture drains directly into the Middle Branch -- no filters, no stormwater pond.  After a heavy rain, a lot of nasty stuff ran off the asphalt and directly into the tributory.

This is what that section looked like before it was regraded and replanted.  Yes, turf looks nice.  But after an inch of rain, it saturates and becomes impervious, turning this swale into a flume.  The velocity of runoff from the lots caused the area around the drain to erode, making it as unsafe as it was unsightly.

Grass also requires regular irrigation, mowing and seasonal fertilizing -- all unfriendly practices in a watershed like ours.

Those ornamental grasses may not look up to the task of stopping the erosion and filtering the runnoff, but don't be fooled.  By the end of the summer they will have doubled or tripled in size.  More importantly, they will develop a vigorous root system to hold them in place and slow the flow into the drain.

The regraded swale is softer and more absorbent, capturing the nasty stuff the rainwater washes into the channel before it has a chance to pollute the Middle Branch.  Fragile as they look, these grasses and their growing medium are no shrinking violets when it comes to tackling petroleum products.

I'll take another picture right before football season to show how our new defensive line is doing. Before long, they should be the same size as their cousins protecting the rain garden from the elements.

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