“Do unto others downstream what you would have them do unto you upstream.”
O gracious God, in creation you gave us the gift of water. Guide us in our efforts to provide cleaner water and a healthier environment for our community through the Clean Water Project. We give thanks for the work of so many who have helped to make this project possible. May we always be grateful for the natural resources that you have bestowed upon us and remain faithful to caring for our environment as you care for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Nearly 200 Years of Service
Sherwood Episcopal Church was established in 1826 on six acres of steep and heavily timbered land in the Limestone Valley of Cockeysville, with the intent to provide an Episcopal church for worship in the heart of the community. The opportunity to worship together, to meet with and learn the latest needs of friends and relatives while gathering at church, was a necessary communal and prayerful experience. Over the years, the number of parishioners increased and by ca.1895, a spacious home for the rector and family was built on the property. Fifty years later, as the post-World War II economy grew, so did attendance at Sherwood Church and many activities took place at the church and on the grounds there.
Water Issue Recognized and Initiative Started
During heavy rain events, stormwater flows from higher elevations, including asphalted housing developments above the Sherwood campus into a gully behind the church. The gully on the church campus is flooded with pollutants, debris, and sediment which then flow over the church and neighboring properties and continues downhill to heavily trafficked York Road. The polluted stormwater continues on to Beaverdam Run, a tributary of Loch Raven Reservoir, and into the greater Baltimore drinking water supply. The people of Sherwood sought solutions to the flooding and storm water problem for many years, with little success.
By early 2020, parish leaders looked at the church property with the vision to better support the community. They realized that before anything could be done, they had to address severe flooding and dangerous property erosion related to stormwater. In early 2021, Sherwood’s Property Initiative team met with representatives of Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, who suggested a visit to the Restoration of Nature stormwater management project at St. Luke’s Church, Annapolis. After touring St. Luke’s project, the congregational team realized that they could let Sherwood’s flooding continue downhill or they could live into their Christian call to care for all of God’s creation by managing stormwater on church property. Sherwood’s Clean Water team requested project bids, and chose Underwood and Associates, the developer of St. Luke’s stormwater solution, as a partner to design and build the project and to assist with grant writing.
The Sherwood congregation chose to “do unto others downstream as you would have done to you upstream”.
The Sherwood Episcopal Church Clean Water Project was envisioned as a comprehensive, stormwater management project using a Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance (RSC) approach. It utilizes a nature-based remedy—“Mother Nature’s solution”—to slow stormwater by moving it through gravel, stone, and earth ponds and streams that filter out the pollutants before they reach the drinking water supply.
A large area of church property will be set aside for stormwater management to prevent continuing damage to neighboring properties and infrastructure along York Road. Over 100 trees will be planted and a riparian and wetland habitat will be established on the property. These improvements will strengthen the resiliency and ability of the community to handle similar flooding. Walking trails and educational signage will help convert the property into an environmental education campus that will be open to the public for recreational use as well.
The Sherwood/Underwood team generated several grant proposals to various organizations to fund the RSC design and construction. In mid-2022, the Chesapeake Bay Trust awarded approximately $60,000 for the design of the project. In mid-2023, the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources awarded the team a grant of approximately $1.7 million for construction.
Additional funding will be needed to provide interpretive signage and recreational pathways at the site and long-term maintenance of the infrastructure.
The construction timeline is, as of this writing, still being finalized, but the Sherwood/Underwood team hopes to see this project begin by spring/summer
2024. Construction will proceed through several phases, and once completed, there will be a need for continual maintenance of plantings and infrastructure for the lifetime of the project. The rehabilitated areas will be used for educational and recreational purposes; walking trails with interpretive signage will tell the story of the project and identify the native plants in the stormwater remediation infrastructure.