Jun 21, 2016

McHale Runoff Woes Offer an Eco-Friendly Opportunity

Protecting the Chesapeake Bay and preserving its natural aquatic ecosystem is an enduring goal for those living and working near Washington, D.C.

As conservation minded professionals, McHale Landscape Design must anticipate any and all environmental effects on Maryland’s critical areas to ensure that our multiple projects near the Bay or the Eastern shore meet and exceed all regulations and best practices. Whether we’re removing invasive plant material, restoring a native buffer or orchestrating storm water management, the preservation of these critical areas is tantamount to our goals.

McHale recently had an opportunity to prove its mettle as a steward of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed when our crew took part in a water erosion control project at our main office facility.

Two pre-existing opportunities made the project both possible and necessary: controlled runoff from our property to an existing drainage inlet (non-point source pollution), and uncontrolled runoff from a neighboring property (point-source).

Our runoff previously had been contained and mitigated by a gravel-lined swale that provided removal of suspended solids before reaching a storm drain. However, planning for a new parking lot to expand our fleet provided the impetus to improve our storm water management measures, and create a space that was functional, educational, and beautiful.


Runoff from the neighbor adjacent to us was also severe. It was being pumped directly to our property and had begun affecting the properties below us. In the interest of being both neighborly and environmentally aware, we devised a storm water management plan that would mitigate runoff through catchment, filtration, and an aesthetically pleasing conveyance system.

To control the runoff from our neighbor, the McHale crew installed a catchment pond at the top of the system with enough holding capacity for a 1″ storm. In the event of additional water, the outfalls will flow into the rest of the system and provide stabilized conveyance during a larger storm event.


To mitigate the runoff from our property to the existing drainage inlet, we implemented planted buffers and a step pool conveyance system. This system, too, was sized for a 1” storm, and incorporated plantings to stabilize and filter runoff. Swales and ponds were planted with native species that were both water loving and visually enticing, including River Birch, Bald Cypress, Iris , Clethra and Itea.

More water is now held on McHale’s main site, while water leaving the property is much, much cleaner. Our efforts increased water quality while decreasing runoff quantity, and eliminated downstream issues.

Overall, it was a storm water management success story.