Provided by Prince William County
Since 2013, the Prince William County Department of Public Works has secured roughly $2.5 million in state grants to restore streams across the county.
The grants, which are funded through Virginia’s Stormwater Local Assistance Fund and matched using the County’s Stormwater Management Fees, will help the county meet state and federal regulations to repair streams to prevent sediments that contain nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, from flowing through the local streams and rivers and on to the Chesapeake Bay.
Virginia is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, along with Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. PWL Jurisdictions within the watershed are governed by the Environmental Protection Agency regulations, which dictate how much sediments are permitted to flow into the bay daily from a given area. It is the responsibility of local governments, like Prince William County, to meet federal and state regulatory requirements through projects such as stream restoration. The jurisdictions are bound by law to pay for the projects, but the matching grants are available and the county Public Works Department has been able to take advantage of them.
Ben Eib, an engineer with Public Works, said the county is working on a list of prioritized projects which is updated annually based on available funding. “As the grants come in, the department assigns the money to projects. These grants significantly extend our available funding for the next year and beyond, so that we are able to implement more projects.”
Over the next 10 to 15 years, the number of projects will have to increase in order to meet conditions of the County’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, or MS4 permit. This permit includes a Chesapeake Bay Special Condition, which requires jurisdictions to meet certain pollutant reductions. These reductions are based on modeling prepared as part of the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily load, or TMDL, and subsequently committed to by the Commonwealth in the Virginia Watershed Implementation Plans. The TMDL is essentially a pollution diet, which establishes an acceptable pollutant load that improves the Chesapeake Bay. Jurisdictions receive MS4 permits that require decreases in the TMDL in five-year increments. Under the current five-year permit, which was issued for 2015 to 2019, the county must reduce its daily load by five percent. The next five-year permit will mandate that the county decrease its daily load by 35 percent. Under the last permit, the county must meet 100 percent of TMDL regulations.
“Basically, we have 15 years to meet 100 percent of the required pollutant reductions through the implementation of various best management practices,” Eib said. “For the first permit cycle, we are in the process of determining the required reductions and identifying what projects will be implemented to meet or exceed the first milestone.”
The most recent grant the county received – for $665,000 – will go toward partly funding the Powell’s Creek Restoration project. The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2017 to early 2018. The grant will also help pay for other water quality enhancement projects, such as water quality retrofits to stormwater management ponds and drainage improvements that address flooding concerns, Eib said.
Other projects across the county have recently been completed, are underway or have start dates assigned to them. Restoration to Cow Branch, where it crosses Merlott Court off Route 1, was completed in 2015. Work on Reach 5, which crosses Antietam Road near Old Bridge Road, is scheduled to start in early 2017. Construction is underway on Marumsco Creek at Hylbrook Park near the Woodbridge Senior Center; and construction on East Longview Creek, off of U.S. 1 near Longview Drive, is scheduled to begin in May.
Stream restoration has benefits for local residents. Restoration prevents excessive stormwater runoff that can damage property or infrastructure. Restored streams are designed to handle the current storm water runoff conditions to prevent flooding damage.
For more information about stream restoration projects in the county, visit pwcgov.org/environmentalservices.