Water, Water Everywhere

Stormwater management was a significant topic of discussion at the recent OP candidates’ forum. Roadside ditches are the typical means for providing flood control for roads, but if not managed optimally, these ditches can contribute to flooding and water pollution. Roadside ditches, swales or similar drainage features are installed to move water from rain and runoff from the road to a pond, creek, or other waterway. In Ocean Pines this water is typically moved from the roadway ditches to our canals and then to the river and bays.

What Constitutes a Good Ditch?

  • Shallow, wet ditches remove nutrients and settle out sediments better than deep, narrow ditches.
  • Stable, vegetated ditch sides prevent erosion.
  • Small pools, if it is possible to provide them, trap sediment.
  • Should trees be removed from a roadside area, stumps should be left in place to prevent erosion and retain stability unless drainage is impeded.
  • Grass buffers adjacent to a ditch/drainage area help reduce erosion, therefore reducing the need for maintenance. A wide, shallow drainage area can reduce erosion and control sediments.

But What About Mosquitoes?

Unfortunately, mosquitoes are part of life on the coast. Mosquitoes breed best in standing water without natural predators. The best example of this is a household or garden container left about that fills with rainwater. Ditches that drain within 30 hours of a storm event will not breed mosquitoes. Some ditches provide some habitat for mosquito predators, such as frogs and fish, which can minimize the mosquito population.

How Can Citizens Help Reduce Flooding and Contribute to Better Water Quality?

Recognizing the purpose of the roadside drainage system and qualities of effective environmentally friendly drainage is the first step.
Landowners (and homeowners associations) should NOT:

  • Scrape, dig or excessively mow, exposing bare soil, as this can contribute to erosion and sediment pollution. A deeper ditch is not a better ditch!
  • Fertilize or apply herbicides, as this may pollute water.
  • Place any extraneous materials in the ditch including: yard debris such as grass clippings or leaves, landscaping such as trees or rocks, or pavement as this may impede road drainage.

Landowners (and homeowners associations) SHOULD:

  • Use absorptive materials for parking areas and driveways and screened rainbarrels for downspouts to further reduce runoff.

**The Environment and Natural Assets Advisory Committee of Ocean Pines would like to thank AMERICAN WATER, a publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company, for the environmental grant they awarded to Ocean Pines to plant beach grasses at the Swim & Racquet Club.

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