Grant to Stop Stormwater Runoff at Annapolis Historic Cemetery

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has awarded half a million dollars in funding to fix the stormwater runoff problem at an historic Annapolis church cemetery.

Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church is home to a historic cemetery where members of the African American community have been buried for over 150 years, including former slaves and Harriet Tubman’s descendants. 

The church, located near Whitehall Creek in Annapolis, floods during significant rain events.

The grant, which comes from DNR’s Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Trust Fund, will fund installation of a treatment chain of stormwater best management practices.

It’s part of a larger effort called RiverWise Congregations, a partnership between the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, and the Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy. The partnership aims to “engage houses of worship in the county in stormwater runoff reduction and retention activities to help Chesapeake Bay restoration.”

The church’s stormwater runoff problem began when development increased in the area, with erosion and sediment accumulation impacting the cemetery. The church’s Board of Trustees ordered a study that used ground-penetration radar to look for possible unmarked graves within the drainage area.

Church congregation members stepped in too. Three are taking part in the Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy, to become Master Watershed Stewards. And 23 church members have had environmental stewardship training and have formed a ministry, the Stormwater Disciples, to continue to engage church and community members.

The ultimate goal of the project is to eliminate the impact of stormwater on the grave sites and inflitrate most of the water back into the ground, so the stormwater and its pollutants don’t reach the Chesapeake Bay.

RiverWise Congregations has worked with 25 houses of worship from Glen Burnie to Galesville. The partnership says when the Asbury Broadneck UMC project is completed, they will have captured 268 pounds of nitrogen, 74 pounds of phosphorous, and more than 30 tons of sediment in all.