New filtration system installed at JBM-HH

By Denise CaskeyJanuary 12, 2024

New filtration system installed at JBM-HH
A tree box filter unit located near the Hatfield Gate at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is planted with a red chokeberry shrub, which can grow to a height of 6 to 10 feet. The unit replaces a standard stormwater curb inlet and allows rainwater to flow into the precast concrete vault, where pollutants are naturally filtered out by the soil media and plant before the cleaner water is discharge to the stormwater system. (Photo by Jenny Tolbert, JBM-HH Directorate of Public Works) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, VA – Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Directorate of Public Works is tackling stormwater pollution and beautifying the area at the same time with the installation of 14 new tree box filter systems.

Shoppers at the JBM-HH commissary may have noticed work being done around the parking lot back in October 2023. The work being done was to move streetlights and utility lines to make way for the new filter systems.

The work to install the systems around the commissary parking lot starts the week of Jan. 16 and will continue through May 2024.

When planning for the units, space was a major consideration, said Jenny Tolbert, environmental specialist with DPW.

“We first identified a number of different curb inlets on base to try to see where we could fit these in,” Tolbert said. “Then, the Army Corps of Engineers did a study and looked at all the different locations to determine, based on the size of the area, what would work and what wouldn't and how much drainage area each curb inlet would collect, because that would maximize the amount of pollutant reductions we would get.”

The tree box filters used by DPW are precast concrete vaults filled with a special filtration media that take the place of traditional stormwater curb inlets. A tree is planted in the media and grows out of a grate covering the vault.

“We are installing the filters to help us meet the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load pollutant reduction goals,” Tolbert said. “The installation has a set amount of three key pollutants that have to be removed from the installation stormwater runoff incrementally over three permit terms. These units are being installed to help us meet that, because every single unit that's installed removes a certain amount of some of these key pollutants from the stormwater.”

As stormwater runs over the pavement, it picks pollutants such as grease, oil and metal, in addition to excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, which can cause deadly algae blooms. Tolbert said tree box filters are perfect for treating runoff from streets and parking lots.

“Instead of stormwater flowing into a curb inlet and directly into the stormwater system then out toward a creek somewhere, it flows in and goes through the soil filter media where all the pollutants are generally filtered out, then excess nutrients are taken up by the tree,” Tolbert said.

There are added benefits from the tree that grows out it, Tolbert said. The shade it creates cools the asphalt and concrete below and provides habitat for wildlife.

Maintenance of the system is minimal and will require only one or two workers spending 30 minutes per unit for occasional pruning, trash and debris removal as well as replacing the filter media every three to five years.

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