Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

January 4, 2014

New trees will help the bay

Get Rooted in Cumberland and the Shade Tree Commission would like to thank Cumberland’s North End homeowners and volunteers who planted 50 trees on Oct. 19.

Queen City Creamery, Tri-State Hand & Occupational Therapy, Martin’s Foods and Little Caesar’s pizza donated food and drink for the volunteers.

Trees were purchased with a Community Legacy grant from Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Additional funding for the Get Rooted in Cumberland project is provided by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, an organization that works to protect the land around rivers and streams that lead to the Chesapeake Bay.

So how does Cumberland’s North End impact our local streams and the Chesapeake Bay?

As you might know, Cumberland has a combined sewer system. This means that sewage from homes and water from rainfall are both collected in the same pipes, which direct flow to the wastewater treatment plant before discharging into the Potomac River.

When we get a heavy rain, the pipes are not large enough to carry the excessive amount of water.

The mixed rainwater and sewage then overflows into our local streams. In North End, there are four points of overflow into Will’s Creek.

How can we prevent or lessen these overflows? Decreasing amounts of impervious surfaces like pavement and cutting back on water usage helps, but one of the most effective methods is to plant trees.

Trees can slow down runoff by collecting rainfall on leaves and by absorbing water up from the ground, cleaning it in the process.

A tree that is 12 inches in diameter can intercept nearly 500 gallons of polluted runoff in one year. The 50 new trees in North End are about 1.5 inches in diameter, but combined they will intercept over 500 gallons of runoff in 2014.

In a few years they will double in size and will intercept nearly 3,000 gallons of runoff per year! These benefits will continue to grow for years as long as the trees are kept healthy.

The issue of managing rain water is becoming more and more important for us here in Maryland due to the focus on improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Planting trees in Allegany County demonstrates progress to the Bay Program.

Other Maryland counties are currently requiring their property owners to pay a tax based on the amount of roofed and paved surfaces on their property.  

For now, Allegany County does not have to enforce that tax. Every tree voluntarily planted works to keep us exempt from that tax.

Most importantly for residents of Allegany County, planting trees provides a host of local benefits including increased health of our streams, aesthetics, shade, and overall quality of life. Kudos to North End residents for making a positive difference!

For more information on the benefits of trees in the city of Cumberland, contact natural resource specialist Paul Eriksson at 301-759-6607.

Watch for Get Rooted banners in your neighborhood for future community tree plantings.

Laura Smith, environmental intern; Raquel Ketterman, environmental specialist; Paul Eriksson, natural resource specialist

City of Cumberland

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