Maryland Port Administration – Climate Change Adaptation & Stormwater Treatment

Many scientists’ projections of future climate over the U.S. suggest that the recent trend toward increased heavy precipitation events will continue. The Maryland Port Administration (MPA) has felt the effects of these severe rain events at its marine terminals, especially at the Dundalk Marine Terminal of the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore. These rain events have resulted in recurrent flooding. From 2009 to 2014, there were three major flooding incidents that resulted in significant pooling of rain water. The intensity of the rain did not allow the stormwater conveyance system ample time to drain, resulting in damage to cargo and loss of use of terminal space for cargo storage for fear of future events. A well-engineered solution was needed. MPA worked with Whitney Bailey Cox Magnani, LLC (WBCM), a multi-disciplined AEC firm providing transportation, marine, facilities, and industrial services throughout the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.

WBCM analyzed the existing storm drain and installed an innovative system that will keep area dry through a 500-year storm event. The centerpiece of the system is a massive 90-foot wide by 90-foot long by 12-foot deep, underground, cast-in-place concrete, pile-supported storage vault that can store 56,000 cubic-feet of stormwater runoff, treat it for water quality, and pump it 4,200 feet to Colgate Creek, a tributary of the Patapsco River. Since construction wrapped up in April 2016, there have been significant rain events and the system worked as designed. The area, previously affected, was totally dry.

By collecting rainfall and treating the stormwater, the project provides an environmental benefit by improving water quality. The system has worked as designed, mitigating effects of heavy rain events and treating stormwater to eliminate pollutants. The risk of not having the system far outweighs any cost associated with its design and build. MPA is replicating this technology at two additional locations on its terminals and believes that it could be used in similar situation elsewhere.