When you think of clean water, a parking lot might not be the first thing that comes to mind!

A local church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, recently completed a parking lot renovation for the sake of reducing stormwater runoff to nearby Hopkins Creek.

Established in the late 1800s, Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) has been a mainstay of the Essex community. In recent years, the church has increased its focus on its environmental impact.

Since 2018, OLMC has worked with the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy (GVC), a Baltimore County-based land trust and watershed restoration non-profit, to implement Bay-Wise practices on its campus and provide parishioners and students with hands-on opportunities to engage in care for Creation.

This Sunday, October 4 the public is invited to participate in the Clear Creeks Project Open House at Our Lady of Mount Carmel (1704 Old Eastern Avenue, Essex, MD 21221) from 11:30 am – 1 pm.

Join us for small outdoor tours to view rain barrels, native tree plantings, and multiple conservation gardens, including the new microbioretention practice in the OLMC parking lot.

Don’t worry, not many people know what a microbioretention practice is! It is a specially engineered garden that is designed to infiltrate a large volume of water back into the ground.

This reduces flooding and the chance of pollutants, like motor oil, from flowing off the parking lot directly into nearby Hopkins Creek. By featuring native plants that are adapted to Maryland’s climate, the garden will require less watering, no fertilizer, and provide beneficial habitat for pollinators.

GVC will also be selling blue and white plastic rain barrels. Advance orders are strongly encouraged. You can place your order at gunpowdervalleyconservancy.org/event/2020-open-house.

Please note, that all participants must wear a face mask during the open house and practice social distancing. There will be multiple tour guides available to minimize the number of people attending each tour.

Since 2013, over 5,000 volunteers have taken an action for clean water with the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy’s Clear Creeks Project in Middle River, White Marsh, Perry Hall and other communities.

The Clear Creeks Project is a grant-funded, community-based initiative that works with homeowners, businesses, and religious institutions to improve water quality in specific parts of the Gunpowder Watershed.

Just this past weekend, GVC staff and volunteers helped install the final plants for a Clear Creeks Project rain garden in Wilson Point. Bill and Nadine Richards have lived in Wilson Point for 40 years and have seen the water quality of Stansbury Creek gradually improve over time.

Bill first learned about the Clear Creeks Project by seeing other rain gardens and Bayscapes that had been installed by the GVC in his neighborhood. The Richards are both excited to have a beautiful addition to their yard, one which is low maintenance and will further help improve the water quality of Stansbury Creek.

We hope you will stop by our Open House this Sunday to learn how you can beautify your yard, solve local flooding issues on your property, and help reduce pollution to our local waterways.

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