Bay Journal

Topics: Pollution

Green roofs help to curb polluted runoff, especially if space is limited

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When Rick Seavey first told municipal officials in Lancaster, PA, that he planned to install a green roof, they thought he was talking about paint color.

That was a decade ago, before affixing water-absorbing membranes and plants to the tops of buildings became a popular solution for businesses looking to absorb stormwater runoff from new construction. And the 16,000-square-foot green roof Seavey planned to build as CEO of the National Novelty Brush Co. would be the first for the South Central Pennsylvania city and the surrounding county of the same name.

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About Pollution

Nutrient pollution, the nitrogen and phosphorus that originates from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and air pollution, is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake. In the Bay, they spur growth of algae blooms which block sunlight needed by important underwater grass beds. When the algae dies, they are decomposed in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by other species.

Sediment eroded from the land and streambanks degrades stream health and reduces water clarity. Toxins and other chemical contaminants also pose a direct threat to fish throughout the Bay and its watershed.

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