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‘Green’ marina growing in Baltimore

Builder says innovative design will put cleaner runoff into Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem

Builder says innovative design will put cleaner runoff into Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem

The builder of a new Baltimore marina set to open over the next two years says the project will be designed to have “minimal impact” on the delicate Chesapeake Bay ecosystem with features like a “living roof” to minimize runoff.

“There’s problems with any body of water, but the Chesapeake certainly is being watched closely,” says Bob Brandon, the developer. “I don’t think everybody is doing as much as they can. We want to.”

Brandon’s project, a 7.75-acre property on the south side of Locust Point on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, is called Port Covington Maritime Center and is planned to eventually provide 400 slips. Brandon says a 150-ton Travelift should be operating by mid-July, with a service building functioning in August. The project includes a two-story retail and office complex, set to be completed in the spring of 2006, and the recreational slips, called Winan’s Cove Marina, that will be available in 2007.

“Our livelihood depends on people remaining in boating,” Brandon says, so anything he can do to preserve the bay is an investment in that direction. Among Port Covington’s planned features that are designed to limit water pollution, he says, are a “living roof,” “sustainable construction” and “functional landscaping.”

Half of the roof of an 18,000-square-foot repair building at the marina will be covered with a rubber membrane and layered with soil to grow live plants. “We’ve designed the roofs with a curve in them so they are visible” from below, he says. This “green roof” will filter rainwater the same as a garden would on the land, he says. The rainwater will eventually run off in downspouts.

The other half of the same roof will serve to collect rainwater for use in the marina’s boat bottom power washing operation, Brandon says. The wastewater from power washing will be gathered in a sediment pit and then piped to a “series of beds of different types of vegetation that can actually pull pollutants from the water.”

As for functional landscaping, Brandon says, “We’re going to plant a rain garden which is, if you will, a pretty-looking swamp, for lack of a better word. We’re going to feed that with the condensate drains from the air conditioning. What it does, whether it’s water from the condensate drains or from a downspout, it treats the water and puts it back into the water table rather than just running off into the bay.”

Sustainable construction takes advantage of natural materials and designs, Brandon says. In the case of Port Covington, this will include windows that open to let fresh air inside, “the thought being that fresh air is the best thing for people. The other hope is you can cut down on air conditioning.” Floors will be made of bamboo, and synthetic adhesives will be avoided in construction, he says.

“The goal with any waterfront development is to limit the amount of runoff that the property produces because it has no place to go but in the Bay,” Brandon says. “So what we’re trying to do is, wherever possible, treat the waste before it hits the ground.”

Brandon owns Tidewater Yacht Service Center. The center’s fuel docks will remain at their Key Highway location while the center’s repair facility will move to Port Covington Maritime Center.