Environmental stewardship is also an important part of the VAMHCS GEMS program. For Earth Day, patients, visitors and staff can visit the GEMS Earth Day Information Tables at Baltimore and Perry Point VA Medical Centers each April which feature information about our current management programs and Environmental Compliance, as well as other programs for Earth-Friendly VAMHCS patients such as Horticultural Therapy.
In addition, the GEMS program organizes annual voluntary shoreline cleanups around Earth Day by employees of Perry Point VA Medical Center. Employees come from all VAMHCS facilities to help keep our shoreline and campus clean. In March 2019, we removed nine dump truck loads of plastics, tires, trash, and miscellaneous metal waste from the shoreline of Perry Point VA Medical Center.
On a monthly basis, VAMHCS diverts 12 to 29 tons of waste from landfills to single-stream recycling and 10 tons of organic waste to composting.
MS4 Permit Compliance Program for Stormwater
To regulate and improve stormwater quality, the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) issued the 2018 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Small Sewer System Discharges municipal and federal storm drains (MS4). Maryland Veterans Health Care System (VAMHCS) is covered by this permit for Loch Raven and Perry Point Medical Centers (VAMC). The Baltimore VAMC does not need to be covered by this MS4 permit due to its location. However, Baltimore’s VAMC is required to adhere to similar stormwater permit requirements, such as not putting anything in a storm sewer except rainwater, under the Stormwater Discharge Permit. rainwater MDE HT.
The purpose of the NPDES MS4 General Permit is to improve the quality of runoff water discharged from state and federal properties and to meet the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established water quality goals in 2010 for the Chesapeake Bay watershed and its tributaries through Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements ) to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. This TMDL is a “pollution diet” for the bay and applies to all states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. A Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) has been developed by Maryland and outlines the approach the state will take to meet Chesapeake Bay TMDL requirements.
VAMHCS owns and operates storm drainage systems at Loch Raven VAMC and Perry Point VAMC. The Loch Raven VAMC system is located in the Herring Run watershed and drains into the City of Baltimore’s stormwater drainage system, and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay. The Perry Point VAMC system is located within the Lower Susquehanna River watershed and drains directly into the Susquehanna River and Mill Creek, which flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
To implement permit requirements, VAMHCS conducted an Impervious Zone Assessment. Impervious Area Assessment involves reviewing all impervious or paved surfaces on both campuses and providing a plan to address 20% of the currently untreated impervious area using MDE approved Best Management Practices (BMPs) .
VAMHCS also implements the six minimum control measures (MCMs) required by the permit. MCMs are actions designed to reduce pollutant discharges into Maryland water bodies, including:
- Public or staff education and awareness
- Involvement and participation of the public or staff
- Detection and elimination of illicit discharges
- Control of stormwater runoff on construction sites
- Stormwater management after construction
- Pollution prevention and good housekeeping
The permit also requires VAMHCS to submit an annual MS4 progress report to MDE. The annual progress report contains information about the MS4 activities that have taken place and the progress made by the VAMHCS in meeting the Chesapeake Bay TMDL requirements during the previous reporting year. Comments and review of the VAMHCS Annual Progress Report are welcome and form part of the MCM on Public Engagement and Participation. Anyone wishing to provide feedback may contact the VAMHCS GEMS Program Manager.