Waterfowl Festival To Begin Bay Street Ponds Restoration

Waterfowl Festival, Inc., is helping to improve the water quality of the Tred Avon River with the assistance of a federal grant supporting the restoration of the Bay Street Ponds in Easton. The nonprofit organization has been awarded $332,000 for the project through the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Water Quality Financing Administration, utilizing funding available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“We are excited to be able to demonstrate the Festival’s commitment to conservation through this important project right here in our own community,” said Judy Price, Waterfowl Festival Executive Director. “Not only will this improve the quality of the water entering a key tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, but it will also have a positive impact on storm water management in Easton.”

For almost four decades, proceeds from the three-day November Festival have helped fund conservation projects throughout the Eastern Shore and Chesapeake Bay region. This year, the Waterfowl Festival’s annual Conservation Grants will also support its own project, with more than $30,000 being earmarked to supplement the federal grant.
The Grayce B. Kerr Fund donated the Bay Street Ponds site to the Waterfowl Festival in 2008.  Far from simply green space in the middle of Easton, the ponds serve as a collection area and sediment trap for the Tanyard Branch, a little known creek that runs from east of Route 50 across town and out to the Tred Avon River.

The creek drains 723 acres of watershed within the town limits, emptying into the North Fork of the Tred Avon River where theEaston Parkway meets Route 33 to St. Michaels. The Bay Street Ponds collect runoff from mostly impervious surfaces, along with nutrient-laden waters from agricultural lands. Excessive siltation in the ponds has severely impaired their ability to function properly as storm water collection facilities.

The Waterfowl Festival will install a Best Practice Management facility at the ponds that is estimated to remove more than 310 pounds of total nitrogen, 64 pounds of total phosphorus and 600 tons of sediment each year before they enter the Tred Avon and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

The restoration plan includes dredging, new construction, and wetland and upland plantings. The current soft sediment layer in the ponds will be removed to increase water depth and improve flood storage capacity.

A forebay to be constructed at the head of the eastern pond will trap pollutants and heavy sediments where they can be more easily removed without extensive dredging. Replacing the aging water level control structure at the foot of the western pond will further increase their water storage capacity and facilitate better flood control. Along the perimeter, a planting shelf will feature native wetland vegetation that will serve the important function of filtering nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants from the ponds.

The Waterfowl Festival competed with more than five hundred projects in Maryland for the federal funding and was one of only seventy projects receiving grants.

Price described the project as an extension of the pond restoration begun by the Grayce B. Kerr Fund. “We are pleased to be able to serve as stewards for the Kerr Fund’s generous donation and further enhance the Fund’s efforts to preserve the Bay Street Ponds as a lovely green space along a major entrance into downtown Easton.”

The pond improvements are expected to be completed by the summer of 2010.

The 40th Waterfowl Festival will be held in Easton November 12-14, 2010.  For more information, or  to become a Festival  volunteer or donor, contact the Waterfowl Festival office at 410-822-4567 or visit its website, www.waterfowlfestival.org.