The Spa Creek Conservancy introduces kids to the joys of splashing around and connects them to their local waterway
On a hot day, many Maryland families head to the nearest beach.
But some children in the Annapolis area never have the opportunity to dip their toes in the water despite being surrounded by creeks, rivers and living minutes from the Chesapeake Bay.
So, once a year, the Spa Creek Conservancy invites local children to Truxton Park in Annapolis for a day on the creek. In 2019, a $5,000 Green Grant from BGE helped this all-volunteer group host 150 kids who spent the day in, on and near the water.
The main point is for children to have a great time. But the conservancy also wants to create an ongoing relationship.
Amy Clements, the conservancy’s president, said, “In school, kids learn to keep liquids and trash out of storm drains. But unless they connect with the water, it’s hard for them to see why it matters. We want them to feel that the creek is theirs.”
The fun was clearly the focus. Many kids tried out paddle boards and kayaks that day, and some swam in the creek. “They had a blast. They didn’t want to get off the water,” Clements said.
Local boat owners offered rides on the creek. “Seeing the city you live in from the water gives a totally different perspective,” Clements said
Participating kids came away with new knowledge about local nature and the environment. A scavenger hunt route through the wooded parkland was posted with photos and facts about local birds and plants. And from the boats, the children could see some of the conservancy’s water quality projects.
A public housing recreation office and area churches recruited and transported the kids. Clements said, “It does my heart good,” to see the turnout. It’s exactly what we wanted for that day.”
The conservancy’s website reads, “Once a haven for fishing, crabbing and boating, Spa Creek has been classified as a highly impaired urban watershed.” The conservancy is committed to reversing this condition. Its focus is preventing potentially harmful stormwater from reaching the creek and its tributaries.
Largely because of runoff from streets and other paved surfaces, the creek doesn’t meet water quality standards intended to protect both human health and wildlife. Polluted stormwater can make Spa Creek unsafe for swimming. In addition, solids settling out of runoff are narrowing the channel and impeding boat access.
The conservancy takes a practical, focused approach to protecting Spa Creek.
They develop rain gardens and other features in surrounding neighborhoods to capture or slow stormwater. They also have restored part of two tributaries to prevent erosion.
The conservancy measures water quality using a testing program supported by BGE. It will prove an important tool for monitoring the success of individual water protection projects.
The testing program already offers the community valuable information: Residents can check the website every day to see if it’s safe to swim in Spa Creek.
Learn more here about how you can participate in the conservancy’s work.
Now in its seventh year, the annual BGE Green Grants program has benefited hundreds of innovative community projects with more than $2 million in charitable giving from BGE. Grants range from $500 to $10,000. Organizations that receive a Green Grant are located in BGE’s geographic service area and use their award for a project that falls into at least one of BGE’s environmental focus areas: conservation, education, energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and community engagement. Prospective grant recipients must be 501(c)(3) non-profits with a board of directors and must meet additional criteria to be eligible.