The nonprofit is able to improve storm water mapping data through funds from the U.S. EPA
The Chesapeake Conservancy received $1.1 million from the U.S. EPA to expand its land cover project, which uses aerial images and computer programming to identify pervious and impervious surfaces across the watershed.
According to The Capital Gazette, the imagery technology can identify both impervious surfaces and natural surfaces, such as fields and forests, that offer slow filtration of storm water. The funding will enable the nonprofit environmental group to update its mapping system with new data, as the group currently is using 2013 and 2014 images.
“It’s really creating a unique world where everybody has access to the same data and everybody’s data is really, really good quality,” said Jeffery Allenby, director of conservation technology.
Additionally, the funding will allow the group to expand a pilot program that maps how water moves across the land, using existing U.S. Geological Survey Lidar data combined with information from the land cover map. The nonprofit has been able to use existing data and pulling finer resolution from it, providing a more precise analysis and identifying areas for restoration.
“When you’re trying to look at putting in a 35-ft stream-side buffer, being off by about 30 ft is a big difference,” Allenby said.
The data will be shared with other conservation groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Program and local water keepers. By making the high quality data available to everyone, the Chesapeake Conservancy believes they are creating an equal playing field and enabling other groups to improve storm water pollution.
“This project will give states, counties and local jurisdictions critical information on how the landscape is changing over time and how these changes impact progress toward achieving restoration of local waters and the Chesapeake Bay,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio in a statement.