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Forest Heights installed new bioretention ponds, a cistern and three 250-gallon rain barrels at the town administration building, at 5508 Arapahoe Drive. The $225,000 project began in late August and is expected to be completed by Oct. 22. It uses sand to filter particulates from storm water runoff, which will reduce pollutants in the water and help with flood control.  A demonstration site will also be set up in front of the town administration building for residents to learn how to set up their own systems at home and which materials they can choose from.

The town paid for $26,000 of the total cost for the new system, which was installed by DC Greenworks, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that provides for the consultation, design, and installation of managing storm water runoff. The rest was funded through grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which help municipalities protect their local watersheds and revise and create codes and ordinances to better protect water quality, respectively. the cost to install a storm water runoff system for the entire town would be about $20 million.

The town is part of the Oxon Run watershed, which flows through Washington, D.C., and Maryland and runs parallel to Southern Avenue as it crosses the District line, flowing into the Potomac River at Oxon Cove.

Rainwater and snowmelt run off streets, lawns, farms, and construction and industrial sites, which then pick up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease and other pollutants on the way to rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

Forest Heights is a town of about 2,500 residents and 963 homes that straddles both sides of Md. 210 and is located near the Capital Beltway, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and National Harbor. (Gazette . Net, 9/29/2011)