Stream restoration is time consuming and difficult work. In densely populated areas, buildings and other infrastructure need to be taken into account. In less populated areas, rough terrain comes into play.
The work, however, always pays off in the end, said Tom Dombrowski, a county environmental engineer. "It provides the opportunity for education, habitat improvement, fish passage, infrastructure protection and pollution control. It also protects sewer lines. It improves water quality and helps clean up the Chesapeake Bay."
Stream restoration includes directing the flow of water to the center of the stream channel to prevent bank erosion, introducing riffles that add oxygen into the water, adding riffle-pool structures to provide wildlife habitat and establishing vegetation along the stream.
Marc Aveni, Prince William County Environmental Services Chief, said that once restoration projects are done, everyone is happy. "The environmental community likes it because we're restoring the stream, and the public likes it because it looks like a park when we're done and it can increase property values."
In all, the county's Department of Public Works has completed 11 projects since 2013, for a total of $6.3 million, with at least half of that paid in state grants.
Aveni said the grants save county residents money. "It reduces the burden on our taxpayers… if we get millions from the state, we don't have to raise the fees on the homeowners who pay the stormwater management fee."
One of the county's projects recently earned the top award for Project of the Year from the American Public Works Association.
Dewey's Creek Reach I project, at Possum Point Road, was recognized as the best restoration job in the state for its good use of construction management techniques, use of sustainable infrastructure, unusual accomplishments under adverse conditions and good quality control, among other things.
The project's objectives were to stabilize the creek, reduce bank erosion, provide infrastructure protection, enhance aquatic and terrestrial habitat, foster protection of residential and commercial properties, and prevent flooding at Possum Point Road.
Aveni said winning the award for the 1,380-linear-feet project establishes the county as a leader in the field. "We want to be seen as a model of how to do this."