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NSA Goes Green

NSA Helps Save the Bay with Our Storm Water Management Plan

What is storm water? Storm water is runoff from rain or melting snow that flows across the landscape. Runoff flows from rooftops, paved areas, bare soil, and lawns and gathers in increasingly large amounts (from puddles and ditches, to streams, lakes and rivers) until it flows into local waterways and ultimately flows into the ocean.

On its journey from a puddle to the ocean, storm water picks up and carries many of the pollutants it encounters. These pollutants include, but are not limited to, dirt, pet waste, pesticides, fertilizers, automobile fluids (such as oil, gasoline, and antifreeze), deicing products, yard waste, cigarette butts, and litter. By transporting these different kinds of waste into our waterways, storm water itself becomes a water pollutant.

The NSA campus is sometimes referred to as a "concrete jungle." While not very flattering, this description accurately describes much of the landscape. The primary pollutants of concern at NSA are gas, oils, grease, nutrients from fertilizer, and sediments from erosion. Oils, gas, and grease are deposited on the parking lots from leaky automobiles or accidental spills by fuel operations such as the refueling of gas powered equipment. Fertilizers are applied campus-wide to sustain the trees and grass, but spills on sidewalks can end up in storm water. Soil erosion from deforested and/or construction areas are one of the greatest potential pollution mechanisms and one of great concern. Most do not think of soil as a pollutant, however, over sedimentation of the Chesapeake Bay has contributed significantly to its declining health. When soil particles end up in the water column, they block sunlight from reaching aquatic vegetation causing them to die preventing the release of oxygen and threatening the population of local fish and crabs.

With every significant rainfall, thousands of gallons of storm water flows down the exterior structures and across the parking lots into storm drains that lead directly into the Little Patuxent watershed and into the Chesapeake Bay. For this reason, it is very important for NSA to act as a good steward of the local environment by ensuring that storm water runoff is as pollutant free as possible.

NSA is working to mitigate the harmful effects of pollutants in runoff. Some of the things being done include educating the work force about storm water issues, providing a ride sharing program to reduce vehicle pollutants, disposing of trash properly, and to recycle whenever possible. NSA is also taking a proactive stance with new construction to help reduce pollutant release by identifying discharges from pipes and drains within building perimeters, controlling runoff at construction sites through erosion management strategies, and creating areas to catch storm water before it leaves NSA property.

NSA will continue to be proactive in protecting and preserving the natural resources of the communities it inhabits.