Green Environmental Management System (GEMS)
The VAMHCS implemented a Green Environmental Management System (GEMS), a framework to manage our environmental impacts.
A central part of the GEMS program is the VAMHCS GEMS Committee, comprised of a cross-functional team of representatives from different VAMHCS services. The VAMHCS GEMS Committee meets monthly to work on stewardship and environmental regulatory compliance issues and has developed the VAMHCS Environmental GEMS Policy that requires the VAMHCS to adhere to the following environmental management principles:
- Pollution Prevention
- Environmental Planning
- Continual Improvement
If you would like a copy of the VAMHCS environmental Policy Statement, please contact VAMHCSGEMSProgram@va.gov .
Impacts to Air, Land, Water and Waste Production
Providing quality health care causes impacts to air, land, and water and produces wastes. The VAMHCS minimizes these impacts as much as possible and complies with all applicable environmental laws and regulations. We do this through the work of the VAMHCS GEMS Program Managers, the GEMS Committee, employee training, policies, and internal VA environmental compliance audits. The VAMHCS GEMS Program Managers work with EPA and Maryland environmental regulators closely to ensure our environmental impacts are managed properly.
Impacts to Air
- Use of emergency generators
- Boilers provide power, comfort cooling and heating
Impacts to Land
- Use of tanks to store fuel for emergency power generation
Impacts to Waste
- General trash
- Used oil
- Hazardous waste
- Pharmaceutical waste
- Regulated medical waste
- Universal waste such as light bulbs and batteries
Impacts to Water
- Construction (storm water)
- Sanitary sewer
- Water disinfection
Environmental stewardship is also an important component to the VAMHCS GEMS program. For Earth Day, patients, visitors and staff can visit GEMS Earth Day information tables at the Baltimore and Perry Point VA Medical Centers every April that feature information on our current stewardship and environmental compliance programs, as well as other Earth-Friendly VAMHCS patient programs such as Horticulture Therapy.
In addition, the GEMS Program organizes voluntary employee shoreline cleanups at the Perry Point VA Medical Center every year around Earth Day. Employees come from all VAMHCS facilities to help keep our shoreline and campus clean. As of March 2019, we’ve removed nine dump truck loads of plastics, tires, trash, and miscellaneous metal waste from the shoreline of the Perry Point VA Medical Center.
On a monthly basis, the VAMHCS diverts anywhere from 12 to 29 tons of waste from landfills to single stream recycling, and 10 tons of organic waste to composting.
Stormwater MS4 Permit Compliance Program
To regulate and improve the quality of stormwater runoff, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) issued the 2018 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Discharges from State and Federal Small Municipal Storm Sewer Systems (MS4). The Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) is covered under this permit for both the Loch Raven and Perry Point Medical Centers (VAMCs). The Baltimore VAMC does not require coverage under this MS4 permit due to its location. However, the Baltimore VAMC is required to comply with similar stormwater permit requirements, such as not putting anything into a storm drain except for rainwater, under the MDE HT stormwater discharge permit.
The goal of the NPDES MS4 General Permit is to improve the quality of stormwater runoff being discharged from state and federal properties and to meet the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established water quality goals in 2010 for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and its tributaries through Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements for reducing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment. This TMDL is a “pollution diet” for the Bay and applies to all the states within the Chesapeake Bay watershed including Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. A Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) was developed by Maryland and lays out the approach the state will adopt to meet the Chesapeake Bay TMDL requirements.
The VAMHCS owns and operates storm drain systems at Loch Raven VAMC and Perry Point VAMC. The Loch Raven VAMC system is located within the Herring Run watershed and discharges to the City of Baltimore storm drain system, and ultimately to the Chesapeake Bay. The Perry Point VAMC system is located within the Lower Susquehanna River watershed and discharges directly to the Susquehanna River and Mill Creek, which flow to the Chesapeake Bay.
To implement the permit requirements, VAMHCS has conducted an Impervious Area Assessment. The Impervious Area Assessment involves reviewing all impervious, or paved, surfaces on both campuses and providing a plan to treat 20% of the currently untreated impervious area using MDE-approved best management practices (BMPs).
VAMHCS is also implementing the six Minimum Control Measures (MCMs) required by the permit. The MCMs are actions designed to reduce pollutant discharges to waterbodies in Maryland, including:
- Public or Personnel Education and Outreach
- Public or Personnel Involvement and Participation
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
- Post Construction Stormwater Management
- Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping
The permit also requires that VAMHCS submit an Annual MS4 Progress Report to MDE. The Annual Progress Report contains information regarding MS4 activities that occurred and the progress VAMHCS has made in meeting the Chesapeake Bay TMDL requirements during the previous reporting year. Comments and review of the VAMHCS Annual Progress Report are welcome and are part of the Public Involvement and Participation MCM. Anyone wishing to provide comments may contact the VAMHCS GEMS Program Manager.