Thanks to our partners

Friday, October 19, 2018

Information Sessions for Homeowners

Presentations to our Three Oaks Association Owners

Our Three Oaks Association Storm Water Grant Team held several information sessions with the HOA owners and renters.

First we gave background information on what storm water is, why it can be a problem in our neighborhood, and what we can do about it.

We have some terrific presentation posters to illustrate all of those points.

Second, we handed out material that shows what our Grant budget looks like, including how much is matched by our HOA reserve funds and by "in-kind" donations from our neighbors.

We also offered drawings that illustrate the current property area and the concept of the Conservation Landscape as it will be constructed in November 2018.

Owners like to see the detailed plant illustrations, which give them ideas of what native plants will flourish in their personal yards. 


Prior to Construction: Perc Test completed!

We needed a perc test!

As we get closer to the construction of our Conservation Landscape (CL), a Three Oaks Association owner (Katherine) enlisted the help of her grandchildren to dig a hole and check if the water would drain according to CL rules.
This drainage check is commonly called a "perc test," where you see if the water percolates quickly enough into the soil to allow proper drainage. If the soil does not "perc" quickly enough, then the rainwater will simply run downhill and pool at the lowest point. 

Children can help dig and measure a for a perc test!
This test is ideal for eager hands and a strong shovel. You also need a measuring tape to make the hole the proper depth.
After digging the hole, you fill it with water. After waiting 24 hours, check the hole. If the water has all drained and the hole is empty, the perc test is successful.  Some standards ask for a repeat.
While doing this test, be sure to cover the hole or fence it off so no one will hurt themselves. And then fill the hole when the test is completed. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Free light bulb swap!

At one of the 5 Books and Bulbs events in Montgomery County, MD 

October is Energy Action Month!  Montgomery County is celebrating with programs and events that can help residents and businesses save energy and money.

Books and Bulbs are free events where County residents bring their old, inefficient light bulbs and trade them for free for up to 3 LED bulbs, a kids’ activity book, and a reusable bag. 
  • Wed, Oct 10 from 3-5pm at Connie Morella Library in Bethesda
  • Sat, Oct 13 from 10:30am-12:30pm at Damascus Library
  • Mon, Oct 15 from 4-6pm at Maggie Nightingale Library in Poolesville
  • Thurs, Oct 18 from 5-7pm at Marilyn J. Praisner Library in Burtonsville
  • Sat, Oct 27 from 12-2pm at the White Oak Library

More information on Montgomery County's Energy Events

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Power of Volunteers

A crew of volunteers were out this weekend picking up trash near Long Branch Library . They had Orange M-NCPPC County Park trash bags, and everything they picked up kept it out of the nearby storm drain, which flows into Long Branch.  A great demonstration of the power of volunteers. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

See the Slow the Flow message in the Friends of Sligo Creek kiosks

As you walk the Sligo Creek trail, the several kiosks give us pertinent information on enjoying nature as well as keeping our stream healthy. 

In August, the Slow the Flow team set up the kiosks to promote our message.

The FOSC Kiosk helps everyone
Here is a knowledgeable mother explaining stormwater management to her child. This is a good example of "Each one teach one."

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Ocean Plastics Lab -- Part 2

--We all use plastics. We all know plastics hurt our environment and our planet. 
--What can we do?  Here are a few ideas in a short quiz from the "Oceans Plastic Lab." (link:
--Try looking at the quiz with your family or friends and look for ways to help our planet on a very local and personal level. 

This graphic from illustrates the prediction that
by the year 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Ocean Plastics Lab

Our every day choices affect not only Sligo Creek, but also eventually the Ocean!

The Ocean Plastics Lab    is an international traveling exhibit about science. It showcases the contribution of science to understand and tackle the problem  of plastics in the ocean. 

Here's a great video and an overview of the "Four Containers" at each exhibit, which is set up as a hand-on science lab. The containers invites the public to assume the role of scientists and explore the extent and impact of plastics in the ocean. 

Go to this link to see summaries of past exhibits and look forward to upcoming ones.

Here's a flyer for this event

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Girl Scouts Meet with our Slow the Flow Team!

Local Girl Scout troop 4005 spent a recent troop meeting in Three Oaks Association learning about stormwater management. 

Scouts learn about stormwater management
Posters and handouts gave them insights into how stormwater can be harmful to our local streams, and, ultimately to the Chesapeake Bay. 

The group discussed various stormwater management techniques

Girls took home a handout card

The girls talked about a volunteer project: Installing storm drain markers in Three Oaks Association and other streets near their homes. 

  • Storm drain markers help educate the public about our storm drain system. 
  • In Montgomery County the water that enters a storm drain goes directly into our rivers. 
  • This stormwater carries pollutants such as litter, pet waste, fertilizers, leaking auto fluids, or anything else that ends on the ground.  
  • These pollutants go directly into our waterways, and ultimately into the Chesapeake Bay. 

The Girl Scout troop agreed to install storm drain markers sometime in the next couple of months. Watch our blog to see the finished results!

For more details on storm drain making and an application, go to:

Image of storm drain marker.
Storm Drain Marker (Courtesy: Montgomery County, MD Department of Environmental Protection)

Sample materials that the Slow the Flow grant team uses to illustrate stormwater management.

How stormwater moves from our homes to our streams (Courtesy: Montgomery County, MD Dept of Envrionmental Protection) 
Dry wells and rain gardens can capture stormwater (Courtesy:


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Storm water problems are very noticeable during a rainstorm

Where does rain water go in your neighborhood?  The best way to find out is to take a walk outside during a storm. Put on your boots and raincoat and go see what happens!

In this first photo, you can look up at the hill from the Seven Oaks Park and Playground. The water is running down the steep hill because the ground is not porous enough to absorb the water. The result is erosion and the topsoil is carried down into a storm drain (between the two trees on the left side).

Hill above Seven Oaks Park & Playground

The fine particles of soil, called silt, go into the drain and end up in Sligo Creek. Silt is not beneficial to the stream, because it causes a cloudy plume, which blocks sunlight and kills vegetation.

This second photo shows the mud that collects at the bottom of the hill. The hard-packed earth does not absorb the water easily, and it sits on the low-lying sidewalk. The mud is made up partly of silt, some of which washes into the storm drain near the playground (in the center of the photo). The rest of the mud sits on the sidewalk, a nuisance to pedestrians. 

Sidewalk near Seven Oaks Park after a heavy rain

If you walk down the Three Oaks Association parking lot, you will see the water sweeping down the asphalt, picking up oils, pollutants, and trash on its way, until it reaches a storm drain. From there the water goes into a large pipe and gets dumped into Sligo Creek.

Three Oaks Association parking lot during a rain storm

Friday, May 11, 2018

Children are Eager Learners

It does not take much to show children how to be "all in" with environmental campaigns. 

On Earth Day several friends were talking in the Three Oaks Homeowners Association. We heard a voice behind us say, "Kids, there's another one." Turning around, we saw two children who quickly stopped in their tracks, bent down to pick up a single soda straw, and add it to their father's bag. 

It takes just a little time and energy to engage children and show them what is needed to improve our world. Thank you to all our neighbors who walk down Three Oaks Drive to enjoy Sligo Creek!   #SligoCreek

Kids picking up trash with their dad at Three Oaks Association
Picking up trash: Earth Day at Three Oaks Association on Three Oaks Drive

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Friends of Sligo Creek (FOSC) Kiosk

Three Oaks Association homeowners are so lucky to live near Sligo Creek!  

Equally lucky is that we live near a terrific kiosk maintained by FOSC on the hiking trail at the footbridge between Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue near the intersection of Bennington Drive. This is where the Bennington Tributary runs into Sligo Creek.

Every month or so volunteers post animal facts, photos, poems, and nature commentary in the kiosk. There is usually information about upcoming events that relate to the environment and caring for our local Sligo Creek and the broader community. Check it out to see what gem is there this month!

Kiosk at Sligo Creek and Bennington Drive
FOSC Kiosk at Sligo Creek and the Bennington Drive Footbridge

Right now (to celebrate the April "Sweep the Creek" clean-up day)
you can enjoy a special drawing and poem. 
The drawing shows the water flowing down Sligo Creek
into the Anacostia River into the Potomac, and then into the Chesapeake Bay.  

Catch the poem: 
Trash that lands in Sligo Creek
Ends up in the Chesapeake.
Help pick it up without delay,
Before it flows into the Bay.

Poem and drawing at the FOSC Kiosk near Bennington Dr.
Poem and drawing that illustrate why trash in streams is wrong!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Going Native

Here's our entrance sign with cherry tree in full bloom.  Cherry trees are beautiful, but they're not native. Next time we'll landscape with a serviceberry, eastern redbud, dogwood, hawthorn, or wild plum. Our project is teaching us how to be better stewards of our environment

Montgomery County GreenFest

Members of our community attended GreenFest in Jesup Blair Park on May 5. GreenFest is the largest, annual enviromental festival in Montgomery County, MD. This community-building event gives residents, businesses, nonprofits, and neighbors a chance to enjoy exhibits, kids' activities, and workshops that are all focused on building community and improving our environment. This year's activities included: 
  • Tips on lawn care, trees, bike repair and more!
  • Tree-Climbing and Stream Maze for kids
  • Dance performances by UpRooted Dance
  • 100 exhibitors, including artisans and food trucks
  • Electric vehicle and car show 
Slow the Flow project team members attended the festivities and saw booths by two of our partners, the Friends of Sligo Creek and the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, who sponsors the RainScapes program that we support.

Every effort helps move us closer to a healthy watershed, rivers, and Chesapeake Bay. 

See who else was at GreenFest:

Chesapeake Foodscapes: edible, medicinal
and native plants

Friends of Sligo Creek

Montgomery County Dept of
Environmental Protection

promo materials from
Montgomery County DEP

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Parking Lot Woes

A third site that we are looking is the center "Y" of our parking lot, which has the largest volume of storm water runoff of any site in our community. It would be an ideal place to collect storm water if we can identify a way to redirect the water into the ground rather than the storm drains. One thought we have is to replace the grass in the green areas around the parking lot with deep-rooted conservation landscaping. This would allow the parking lot runoff to flow into the loose soil, where the plants could soak it up. The challenges here are that the grassy areas are not large and they are limited in how much water they could absorb. We would also have to work around utilities and water lines across some of the green sections. Lastly, a flood of rain water might harm trees that are already planted in those green areas. We are consulting with an environmental engineer and experienced landscape contractors to leverage their critical expertise as we explore the options for storm water remediation in our community.

Storm drain that takes in a large volume of water
Parking lot "y" with green space

Parking lot in the rain, water
flowing into the storm drain

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Swales and Drip Lines

On April 26, several Three Oaks owners and a FOSC representative walked several storm water project sites with the BayLand engineer. The engineer pointed out ways we can transform a concrete swale into conservation landscaping. Our goal is to have storm water seep into the ground instead of running down the swale and into the parking lot.  One of our sites currently has a swale that empties into our parking lot, and the other site has a swale that flows down a steep hill, empties onto a cul-de-sac and flows into a storm drain leading to Sligo creek. 

Both sites have challenges. The downhill swale is extremely steep, and we would like to slow the flow of rain water during heavy rain fall so that it seeps into the ground rather than flows into the storm drain. The best management practice will likely require us to build concrete or timbered berm that can hold a significant amount of water.

The second area is flat, but it has only a small area of open space and a great proximity of mature trees. Large trees would be at risk if we dug deeply around their root systems. Standard practice is not to dig deeply within a tree's "drip line" (the furthest out that the tree's branches reach).  Storm water remediation underneath trees is more costly than projects in open areas. The engineer suggested using "filtration cells" to help maximize the space use. These cells temporarily collect and pond one foot of rain runoff, and they have two feet of sand and stone underneath to promote infiltration.  Excess water is absorbed by native plants. Overflow goes into the storm system.  Implementing this type of solution means the majority of the storm water is absorbed into a planted area instead of running into the parking lot. 

Site photos

Assessing the trees:
lots of drip line here

Thinking about ways to redirect runoff
so it doesn't go into the parking lot

Standing at the top of the steep
swale to the cul-de-sac
View of the steep hill

Monday, April 23, 2018

Launch Party

The Slow the Flow project launch party was held on Earth Day. Neighbors and friends gathered in the playground on this beautiful day to learn more about the project.

Reading about the project

Community building