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Homeowner Association Resident’s Perceptions on Stormwater Retention Ponds and Clean Drinking Water: (Montgomery West Homeowners Association (MWHOA) Gaithersburg, Maryland). Public Deposited

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Graduation date: 2015

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  • Abstract This report describes the findings from a 22 question survey of the 104 member Montgomery West Homeowners Association (MWHOA) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Resident’s perceptions of their practices as related to the neighborhood storm ponds, stormwater, and how homeowner practices contribute to non-point source pollutants. An understanding of Green Infrastructure (GI) processes and techniques, and perceived awareness of a list of 14 governmental and nonprofit organization education programs was conducted. The MWHOA contains two stormwater retention ponds which drain into an adjacent watershed and then into the Potomac River. The local water utility company, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), has a raw water intake system downstream of MWHOA drainage. A survey of MWHOA residents was employed to inform two project objectives. The primary project objective was “What are the Montgomery West Homeowners Association (MWHOA), Gaithersburg, MD residents’ perceptions, understanding of connections and current practices that influence stormwater management ponds and clean water”. The secondary project objective was “What additional interconnected relationships can be derived from the MWHOA resident perceptions and awareness levels towards current solutions to clean water (such as Green Infrastructure (GI) techniques and educational awareness programs)? A 49% survey response rate was achieved with homeowners but a zero response rate for renters in the Association. Only one-third of the residents had ever visited their neighborhood pond. Two-thirds of residents indicated some general awareness that the ponds controlled stormwater flows but there was little knowledge of pond function or impact on the environment beyond that. There was some knowledge of residential gasoline and fertilizer products washing into the stormwater ponds. Aside from using rain barrels and landscape mulching there was little knowledge of GI to reduce onsite runoff water volume. The MWHOA residents were aware of only four (out of fourteen) pollution reduction education programs: 1) Adopt-A-Road, 2) Hazardous Household Waste Collection Events, 3) Storm Drain Marking Program, and 4) Marylanders Plant Trees. Examples of County programs identified in the survey that work: “Save the Bay” storm drain marking, Adopt-A-Road anti-littering, and household hazardous waste collection events have high visibility and usage within the MWHOA. However, the Rainscapes program, and the illegal dumping and stream contamination hotline have very low visibility to Association residents. Our survey identified a number of low cost practices that may offer improvements in stormwater quality. The MWHOA board of directors may adopt recommendations to influence positive change in individual actions affecting the quality of the supply of local drinking water. Publicizing good application practices for lawn fertilizer, as well as educating the Association about the County fertilizer law and penalties, is a good example of a low cost action with potential large scale water quality improvement.
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