Aerial view (above) of the Stoney Creek Pond shows extent of the 6-acre site. Below, heavy equipment grooms the site for its conversion from wetland to pond.
You may decry what looks like the desecration of a once-verdant lawn sloping from the National
Library of Medicine toward Woodmont Ave., as a joint NIH-Montgomery County project digs things up to create a long-planned-for stormwater management pond, but do not despair: the temporary
roadways, built to accommodate construction
traffic, will disappear once the job is complete and NIH will be left with plenty of grass plus a new water feature, the “NIH Stoney Creek Pond.”
The project—on the drawing board since the mid-1990s—is designed to improve water quality and reduce stormwater flow rates and stream bank erosion in Stoney Creek, which crosses NIH property
on the campus’s southeast border.
The pond will collect water from a 204-acre watershed
including much of downtown Bethesda and a portion of the NIH campus. It is expected to ultimately
benefit lower Rock Creek and help meet the objectives of Montgomery County’s pollutant discharge elimination system.
Don’t plan on toting a fishing pole, or ice skates or swim trunks to the pond, though; signs will indicate
that those activities, along with boating, are not permitted.
The pond’s design includes provisions for capturing
trash and oil, which are typical pollutants in an urban setting. There will also be a shallow
“safety bench” that will extend out from the shoreline to ensure a shallow water depth along the shore and eliminate steep gradients along the banks.
The 6-acre site will be landscaped with “native trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, grasses and wetland vegetation [that] will help to support a diverse and balanced community of amphibians, insects, fishes and birds,” according to the project description.
The adjoining community had been concerned about the pond’s becoming a breeding ground for West Nile virus-bearing mosquitoes when plans for the project were first publicized in the early 2000s. But the county department of environmental
protection built insect management measures into the design; aerators will trouble the surface water, bug-eating fish will be added
and the county will provide insect-deterring maintenance.
Today’s pest du jour—NIH’s burgeoning population
of Canada geese—is also accounted for in the plan. Dense shoreline vegetation should discourage