Bowie Lions Club offers barrels to save the Bay
City's watershed manager encourages residents to limit runoff
Tiffany Wright, watershed manager for Bowie, is deep into planning for the city's fifth volunteer stream cleanup set for April 17.
But she took time out Saturday to give a short talk about the city's two watersheds and the importance of keeping pollutants out of the steam system at a rain-barrel workshop hosted by the Bowie Lions Club at city hall.
Passionate about her job, Wright said rain barrels are a way residents can capture the water that flows off a roof and direct it into a barrel instead of letting it flow across paved roads carrying pollutants and topsoil with it into city streams.
Wright said it's important to understand that most of the stormwater runoff in Bowie is not treated to remove pollutants, such as engine oil and chemicals.
"It does not go to a wastewater treatment plant," Wright said. "It goes into streams, rivers and the bay."
Not only do rain barrels help the Chesapeake Bay, they also help property owners by conserving rain water that can be used later to water a lawn, wash a car or help fill a pool.
The Bowie Lions Club makes no-frills rain barrels using 55-gallon plastic drums and sells them to raise money for the club at the farmers' market at Bowie High School and other community events.
The cost is $75 for white drums and $65 for bright blue drums, a lower price than many barrels sold commercially for $100 or more, Wright said.
A Richmond, Va., native, Wright studied marine science at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, S.C., before joining the Center for Watershed Protection in Catonsville in Baltimore County, where she worked for seven years.
She came to Bowie in early 2009 after the city decided to create the position of watershed manager as part of a plan to expand effort to protect the environment.
Wright said the main focus of her job is to "try to increase awareness and have people involved in the environmental restoration process."
Specific projects this year include following up on a 2003 study that identified areas in the city's two watersheds that needed investigation. She plans by the end of June to visit some of the areas to see what might need corrective work to prevent erosion.
Wright is also tracking the results of restoration work in the Middle Collington Branch subwatershed by taking water quality and biological samples. She also uses a geographical informational system to map data about tree canopies and turf covered areas.
Last spring she worked with an Eagle Scout on a storm-drain marking program in part of the Overbrook and Chapel Forge sections of the city and this summer plans to work with an Eagle Scout to mark drains in the Pointer Ridge area.
She is also talking to the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and schools about finding students to paint rain barrels for sale by the Lions Club.
Wright and the Lions hosted their first rain-barrel workshop in May 2009. She was expecting 25 people, and five times as many people showed up.
"I couldn't believe it, I was so excited," she said. "We had to bring in chairs from the other room. It was awesome."
For more about Bowie Lions Rain Barrel Program, visit the Web site at www.bowielions.org or call 301-262-2665. To register for the April 17 steam cleanup, call Wright at 301-809-3043 or e-mail her at twright@
cityofbowie.org. For more on Bowie's environmental program, go to www.cityofbowie.org/GreenBowie.
E-mail Virginia Terhune at firstname.lastname@example.org.