Water is a gift. Water is life.
Clean water represents life and it is indeed a gift whether we are drinking it, recreating in it, or being baptized in it. So what is our role in keeping our water clean and safe?

Keeping our Watershed Clean

Clean water starts where we live….the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Everyone living in the watershed (approximately 18 million people covering more than 64,000 square miles of land) contributes in some way to the health of the Bay.
So how does what we do in our backyards and on our church grounds affect the water of the Bay? When stormwater runs off impervious services, such as roofs, streets and parking lots, it picks up trash and pollutants that are carried to nearby storm drains and flow directly into our streams or rivers. These polluted waters eventually make their way to the Bay. Areas with forests and meadows or rain gardens allow the rainfall to be absorbed into the ground or evaporate into the atmosphere. You can help protect God’s waterways and groundwater by properly managing the stormwater at your church and home.

Begin by having a water audit done for your church grounds to determine how best to collect water that drains from the rooftops and paved surfaces. Once done, you will

  • Use Rain Barrels/Cisterns: Rain barrels and cisterns collect rainwater during storm events that you can use to water your landscape.
  • Install a Rain Garden: Rain gardens are gardens built to contain and infiltrate rainfall from a specific area of impervious surface for a typical rain event.
  • Organize a Tree Planting: Trees have measurable impacts on the quality of our water and air. In addition to slowing and absorbing runoff, they filter out pollution, and cool the water for wildlife, all of which improves the Bay’s water quality.
  • Plant natives: Native plants are specifically adapted to the local environment, and don’t require additional water or fertilizers that non-native plants may need to survive. In addition, native wildlife has adapted to native plants, and depends on them for food and habitat to grow and thrive.
  • Replace Lawns: Many churches are surrounded by lawns. Lawns are environmentally problematic because they do not provide shelter or food for native animals or birds, often require the addition of extra water and fertilizer that can contribute excess nutrient runoff into steams, use fossil fuel and add pollutants to the air during mowing; and are less permeable than planted areas. So seek ways to reduce the area of lawn around the church. Replant these areas with native plants, trees, and shrubs that increase biodiversity and make a positive contribution to the integrity of the environment.


There are many great resources and funding opportunities to guide you through this process and helplighthouse finance your efforts.

Blue Water Congregations, a program thru Blue Water Baltimore and Interfaith Partners of the Chesapeake, provides free technical, design, financial and landscape expertise to identify and implement stormwater reduction strategies at faith-based institutions within our watersheds.

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake offers a number of great programs to help congregations in their efforts.

Stewards of the Bay: A Toolkit for Congregations in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, a nonprofit that leads, supports and inspires local action to protect the lands, rivers and stream of the Bay watershed, offers a wide array of programs to reduce stormwater runoff:

  • Resolve to Stop Buying Bottled Water:
    MD Episcopal Diocese Resolution 2010-2
    Title: Restricting the Use of Bottled Water
    Submitted by: Patapsco Valley Regional Council
    RESOLVED, that this 226th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Maryland, meeting April 30 – May 1, 2010, urges all parishes, Episcopal facilities and individuals to stop the use of bottled water.

So why else is consuming bottled water a bad idea?
Using vast quantities of fossil fuels and water, these bottles are manufactured, filled, and shipped around the globe. (Not a good carbon footprint!)
Plastic bottles are not biodegradable in any meaningful way: what you drink in a few minutes can stick around for a thousand years. Even with recycling efforts, 6 out of 7 plastic bottles consumed in the U.S. are thrown in the trash or “downcycled.”
Americans buy more than half a million bottles of water every week … when it flows virtually free from the tap.

What can you do instead?
Carry a reusable water bottle with you.
At church events, provide water in pitchers or use a water cooler for large events.

The Story of Bottled Water
Untapped: A documentary movie that examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution and our reliance on oil.
Bag It: A documentary on why plastic is so harmful to our health and environment and what you can do to reduce it.

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