The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 15, 2013

Beckley Sanitary Board

Thomas H. Keyser Memorial Rain Garden started

— Ground was broken Friday to mark construction of the Thomas H. Keyser Memorial Rain Garden in the traffic island at the intersection of Holliday, Painter and Tolley drives in Maxwell Hill.

Partnering with the Boy Scouts of America 2013 National Scout Jamboree and Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia, the project kicked off the Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative in Raleigh County where Scouts will perform 300,000 hours of community service in five days throughout nine counties in southern West Virginia.

The rain garden will serve as a memorial to Thomas H. Keyser, who was a 28-year Sanitary Board member and president of Maxwell-Keyser Plumbing & Heating.

“Tom Keyser was a fine gentleman, who served BSB admirably from 1981 to 2009. He, along with others, oversaw numerous improvements during his tenure on BSB’s board and played a key role in insuring future generations’ wastewater needs will be met and the quality of our local waterways protected,” Sanitary Board General Manager, Jeremiah Johnson said.

“It’s rare in today’s world to find humble community servants like Tom who spend decades working on issues they believe in. It is with gratitude that we celebrate the mark he left upon our community.”

Remembered as an avid runner with a heart of gold, Keyser was an inspiration to his friends and family because of his dedication to healthy living. Likewise, this rain garden will provide a lasting impact on the health of the environment and community by helping to reduce neighborhood flood risk potential as well as pollution entering our local streams.

Stormwater runoff forms when rain falls onto paved surfaces, like parking lots and roadways. As runoff travels across these surfaces, it becomes polluted by chemicals, trash and anything else in its path, before discharging, untreated, into nearby creeks and streams.

“While runoff pollution occurs in rural and agricultural settings, urban and suburban landscapes greatly enhance the problem because of the large amounts of paved surfaces,” Kara Van Pelt, Sanitary Board education and communication coordinator explained.

“Because conventional stormwater infrastructure is designed to quickly convey runoff downstream, the risk of the pollution and flooding usually increases with storm sewers. That’s why BSB uses green infrastructure, when possible, to mimic the natural water cycle and lessen the strain on our water resources.”

Since 2007, BSB stormwater program has been adopting green methods that use natural elements in lieu of pipes, like soil and vegetation to slow runoff and filter out pollutants while replenishing the underground water table.

The Thomas H. Memorial Rain Garden will mark the 19th rain garden within the City of Beckley, which leads the state in the adoption of green infrastructure.