'Green' Streets Are Coming to Wheaton

Ed Murtagh - November 3, 2011

Homeowners, businesses, schools and organizations have been quietly working to create a greener, more sustainable Wheaton. The County’s Department of Transportation is now joining this effort by starting to use special landscaping along our county roads to create “green streets.”

What are green streets? Green streets use vegetated zones along streets to mimic natural areas like parks and forest by capturing, spreading out and soaking in stormwater runoff.

Polluted and excessive stormwater runoff from streets causes significant environmental damage and flooding to our streams in Montgomery County.

If you have recently driven along Arcola Avenue near University Boulevard, you may have noticed vegetated “bump outs” along the street. We hope these are the first of many green street practices that will not only beautify our roads, but also help restore Sligo and Rock Creeks.

Now the stormwater from a summer thunderstorm, with all it petroleum products, heavy metals, fertilizers, and trash, will be directed into the vegetated swales where the stormwater will soak into the ground instead of running into Sligo Creek.

As it soaks into the ground, the runoff will cool down while the microbes around the plant roots help break down pollutants and the plants help wick up nutrients and heavy metals. So instead of a hot toxic stew gushing into Sligo Creek, cooler and cleaner ground water will enter slowly.

Homeowners can help by retaining stormwater on their properties (away from their house foundations). Learn how you can restore our streams by visiting the County’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Rainscapes website www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rainscapes.asp.

Follow GreenWheaton on Facebook. By working together we can create a green and healthier Wheaton.