BLADENSBURG, Md. (WJZ) — The University of Maryland received a huge grant to help communities keep the Chesapeake Bay clean.

Monique Griego has more on how groups are developing new ways to manage stormwater pollution.

Environmental leaders say stormwater runoff is one of the biggest threats as far as pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. Now scientists are developing new ways to stop it.

As the communities around the Chesapeake Bay continue to grow, so do the pollution problems from stormwater runoff.

“In urban areas, this is the biggest kind of pollution we have, so this is really a critical component to saving the bay,” said Rob Schnabel.

As a restoration scientist, Rob Schnabel is helping communities find ways to reduce pollution. Rain gardens that naturally filter the water are one way they’re doing it.

“The whole idea is that the plants that the water runs through absorb all the hydrocarbons, all the oil and grease,” said Schnabel.

To help other areas develop similar projects, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded the University of Maryland nearly $700,000 to help Maryland’s Wilde Lake watershed and D.C.’s Watts Branch watershed to improve stormwater management.

“So at the end of this project, we’ll really know what works and we’ll have long-term sustainable success,” said Prof. Paul Leisnham.

Schnabel says these new projects not only work and look better, they’re cost-effective.

“Once you do this project, it doesn’t require much maintenance,” said Schnabel.

In Annapolis, after just a few months, neighbors say they’re already seeing results.

“I think there’s much less runoff than there used to be,” said a neighbor.

Because Maryland as a whole is trying to improve the quality of the bay, Schnabel says more stormwater projects will be popping up.

The University of Maryland’s project with the new grant money will run from 2012 to 2015.