Martinsburg VA’s 6-acre nature area provides a safe place for stormwater runoff.

Image courtesy of Martinsburg VA Medical Center

Martinsburg (W.V.) VA Medical Center was named Most Sustainable Facility by Chesapeake Stormwater Network for a program that leverages not only infrastructure, but also green strategies to manage stormwater runoff.

Martinsburg VA manages its own water treatment plant, and Rob Moore, green environmental management system program manager at the Martinsburg VA, says that a combination of factors has led it to continuously evolve its stormwater management program over the last decade.

Groundwater infiltrates the geography’s coarse surface quickly, potentially contaminating the hospital’s well-water source. Also, Martinsburg VA has built more facilities over the past few years to keep up with its growing patient population. The increased facility footprint reduced areas to manage runoff on the 172-acre campus.

The VA center has implemented a number of measures to protect its drinking water and prevent flooding on its own campus and neighboring developments, many of which were proposed by front-line staff. One of its most impactful programs is its stormwater retention basin program, which has the dual function of leveraging plant wildlife to manage runoff and providing a tranquil escape for patients and staff.

“We were looking around at all different types of stormwater basin, but we didn’t want to just put a deep hole that fills up and then drains,” says Scott Rheam, facility management services. “I am a disabled vet, and when I got out of the military, what helped me more than medicine was the outdoors and being in nature.”

Rheam has been the lead on starting and building a portion of Martinsburg VA’s stormwater control system that uses segregated sections and hydrophilic plants. He also leveraged existing stormwater swales and enhanced them with similar vegetation. The introduction of plant life helps to reduce the velocity of stormwater runoff, allowing it more time to infiltrate to groundwater and redirect to a larger open space away from adjoining property. It also helps to filter out contaminants.

Just as important, Rheam says, it provides six acres of nature for people to enjoy. The area features walking trails, benches, a wheelchair accessible observation deck and bird feeders.