Arlington County Board Sets Public Hearing on Updated Stormwater Master Plan

  • Protecting water quality; helping Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort
  • Responding to state and federal regulations
  • Maintaining an effective stormwater drainage network
  • Public hearing Sept. 20, 2014

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board on Saturday, July 19, set a public hearing in September on the updated Stormwater Master Plan, which will guide the County's stormwater management program over the next twenty years.

The updated plan combines and updates the storm infrastructure information from earlier Stormwater Master Plans with the environmental and water quality information from the Watershed Management Plan (2001), to create a comprehensive Stormwater Master Plan. The County's updated Stormwater Master Plan reflects a new era of stormwater management driven by the Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandate issued by EPA in 2010.

The Master Plan will help the County work toward pollution reduction requirements under the County's stormwater permit and the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) — and support the County's environmental protection goals for its local streams.

“This update to the Stormwater Master Plan will guide our stormwater program and help ensure our community's environmental compliance and sustainability,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “All of us – every business owner and resident in Arlington and in the region – must do our part to improve water quality and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”

The Board voted 5 to 0 to advertise the public hearing for September 20, 2014.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Sept. 8, followed by the County Board meeting on Saturday, Sept. 20, to consider the update to the Stormwater Master Plan. Both meetings will take place in the County Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Third floor, Arlington VA.

More stringent requirements

The state and federal Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandates now require Arlington to achieve specific nutrient and sediment pollutant reductions, defined in terms of pounds of sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen. These requirements must be met in full by 2028. Key to meeting these pollution reduction requirements in the near term will be stream restoration projects, Ballston Pond Improvement project, improved stormwater treatment from redevelopment, nutrient trading, and street sweeping.

In the long-term, watershed retrofits, such as curbside and median rain gardens, will become more important as the finite number of stream restoration projects that can provide both nutrient and sediment reduction credits are completed. The County will receive nutrient and sediment credits for watershed retrofits as well, but fewer sediment credits than available for stream restoration projects. Given competing needs for the public right-of-way, ongoing community discussion is needed for watershed retrofits in the public space.

Stormwater system assessment

As part of the Stormwater Master Plan, the County completed a comprehensive assessment of the County's stormwater pipes, streams and stormwater facilities. These assessments provide critical information for managing the system over the next 20 years, including prioritized lists of projects to maintain and upgrade the stormwater systems.

How Arlington will meet the more stringent requirements

The County will comply with 2028 nutrient and sediment reduction deadlines by investing more in infrastructure and operations, and by using nutrient credits from the County's wastewater treatment plant through nutrient trading. Nutrient trading will give the County more time, beyond 2028, to achieve the stormwater infrastructure improvements necessary to achieve full compliance.

The County is still at a very early stage of its TMDL compliance effort. Regulatory agencies are still developing nutrient-and-sediment-crediting guidance. In the 10-Year Capital Improvement Plan adopted July 19, 2014 by the County Board, the County identified $61.3 million in funding over the next ten years (funded by Stormwater fund) for projects to implement the Stormwater Master Plan.

Public process

The County has conducted an extensive public process for the Stormwater Master Plan. It held several general community meetings as the plan was being developed, as well as a number of public meetings to discuss the three technical studies (Storm sewer capacity, Watershed Retrofits, Stream Assessment). Staff made presentations to Environment and Energy Conservation Commission, Urban Forestry Commission, Parks Commission, Long Range Planning Committee of the Planning Commission, the Transportation Commission, Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Commission, and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment.

The County received comments on the draft plan from Commission members and the general public. The plan was revised based on those comments, and a response to comments document was posted on the Stormwater Master Plan we site in May, 2014. County staff are available in August to meet with members of the public to discuss the Stormwater Master Plan, upon request.

To learn more, visit the County website and search “Stormwater Master Plan.” To read the staff report for today's County Board meeting, visit the County Website. Scroll down to Item No. 36 on the Agenda for the July 19 Regular County Board Meeting.

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.