In 2012, the Environmental Finance Center was selected by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to provide technical assistance on Oxford’s stormwater management. Over the course of the one-year project, EFC and project partners provided educational outreach and analytical assistance to address recurring stormwater and tidal driven flooding.
The Town of Oxford is located in Talbot County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It is situated on the Tred Avon River, intersected by Town Creek, and lies within the Lower Choptank watershed segment draining directly into the Chesapeake Bay. Oxford has approximately 650 full-time residents that more than doubles in size during the summer months. Oxford is small in size, covering only 513 total acres. The highest elevation in town is at 11 feet above mean high water with many parts of the town falling between 4-10 feet above sea level. The majority of Oxford is located in a floodplain, therefore, is low-lying land frequently exposed to flooding caused by tidal and rain events resulting in recurrent flooding in many areas of town. Stormwater and tidal concerns are closely linked issues that cannot be easily separated when exploring potential solutions to manage stormwater in the town of Oxford.
The study found that stormwater infrastructure and shoreline management are inseparable and must be part of a unified solution – stormwater infrastructure to store and convey rainfall or tidewaters, and shoreline management to address the reality of sea-level rise. While some preliminary engineering solutions were evaluated, the chief recommendation from the study was for Oxford to adopt a local stormwater and shoreline protection fee that would raise the revenue necessary to invest in water management infrastructure such as constructed wetlands and stormwater pumps. Chesapeake Bay health and flood-related pollution runoff were also addressed in the study.