Water Watchdog Report

What: Muddy Water
Where: Chelsea Heights construction site, Silver Spring
When: 2015-06-27 at afternoon
Reported By: Anne Vorce
Additional Details:

The Chelsea Construction Runoff Project to Protect Sligo Creek and thanks to Seven Oaks-Evanswood Citizen Maria Schmit

Observant neighbor Maria Schmit reported that the silt fence for the Chelsea construction site at the corner of Ellsworth and Springvale in Silver Spring broke this afternoon. An enormous lake of muddy runoff was sent onto Ellsworth and then into the nearest stormdrain. Once in the stormdrain, the runoff headed into Sligo Creek, daylighting at the Bennington Tributary just 5 or 6 blocks away.

Maria had first reported that the silt fence was under pressure mid afternoon from the heavy rains (coming down since 2am) and took photos. An email was sent to DPS, which is in charge of the ESC (erosion and sediment control) measures.

A short time later, the spot that was under pressure failed and the muddy lake behind the silt fence poured off the construction site, into the street and headed for Sligo Creek.

Broken concrete and asphalt were also marinating in the muddy lake behind the silt fence, so there may be a legitimate concern that the runoff was not simply mud and water.

A second email was sent to DPS and the developer asking them to urgently fix the situation. EYA’s project manager Matt Thorne responded quickly that they would try to find someone to make the repairs.

The ESC failure is only the latest in a series of problems at this corner. Kit Gage originally filed a muddy runoff report June 10th; and Anne Vorce had recently updated it. After each of these reports, DPS has added ESC protection. After Kit’s report, they required strengthened silt fences and other measures. Last week, DPS improved the curb cut and runoff leakage situation (see our report “Silt fences and curb cuts do not mix”). But, in the end, all of these ESC measures have not been enough, particularly given the rain we have been getting.

The spot is a weak spot. It is the lowest point of the Chelsea property. It is perhaps the most important drainage spot of the property.

I call upon DPS and the developer to improve the situation in a more fundamental way. I know that they, like all of us, do not want Sligo Creek to be sedimented by runoff from the construction site.

Photo at 3:30pm: Silt fence leaking and showing signs of pressure after heavy rain. Photo by Maria Schmit

Photo at 4:30pm: Silt fence breaks. Lake of muddy runoff pours off construction site to nearest downhill storm drain on Ellsworth. Photo by Maria Schmit

Photo at 5-5:30pm: Silt in Ellsworth storm drain ends up in Bennington Tributary,
which flows into Sligo Creek. Photo by Anne Vorce