It is time for Southern Maryland to do its part

Friday, Dec. 11, 2009

My name is Stephen King Jr., and I am a freshman at Penn State University majoring in landscape contracting.

My area of study is very concerned about the earth, and sustaining it for generations to come.

I am writing because I strongly believe the work I am doing here at Penn State University affects the people in my home town.

In our geography/sustainability class a group of students and I were assigned a project to choose a location in the Borough of State College, Pa., and focus on one of the many facets of sustainability for that location.

We were assigned to focus on the aspect of "Land Use," and we chose one particular site in the Borough where we could utilize the grand size and flat roofs of the three buildings on this site.

Our group proposed a cistern, a container used to catch and store rain water, which would collect water from the buildings' rooftops and use it for irrigation during times of drought, washing cars and other uses.

Some residential uses for cisterns could include washing clothes or even drinking water, however, this is not always safe unless the water goes though a cleansing process.

A huge cistern may not be ideal for a small residential landscape, but perhaps a 55 gallon barrel could be attached to an existing gutter to not waste the rainwater off your roof. Consider it.

I am not suggesting that everyone in Southern Maryland get a water cistern, but I am suggesting that you consider going green, because in our backyard is the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, that needs to be sustained.

After looking at many different ways to help preserve the land and still meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, we decided a cistern would work best for this specific site.

Another option that we considered for this project was the use of green roofs which incorporate vegetation on the buildings' rooftops for both environmental and aesthetic purposes.

This is a great option for residential landscapes, and has benefits like waterproofing and insulation, and it provides natural habitats for wildlife.

Another alternative that would be very useful to places that get more sun than Happy Valley would be the implementation of solar panels on individual homes.

Although this does work in State College, we frequently have overcast days of rain and snow.

Solar panels take the light of the sun and convert it into energy for use in your home.

Solar panels provide a free source of energy, and regulate temperatures to keep heating and air conditioning bills down while not emitting pollution into the atmosphere with fuels for heating homes.

Through our research, my group has found that the land we all love today needs to be taken care of for future generations.

It is time for Southern Maryland to take part in the world wide green movement.

Sustain the land we love; do your part.

Stephen King Jr.,

University Park, Pa.

The writer is a graduate of Calvert High School.