Little Hunting Creek Watershed Management Plan

Background

In 2002, Fairfax County initiated a process to develop management plans for each of its 30 watersheds. Its purposes were to restore and protect the county's streams, of which 70% are in fair to very poor condition, and to support Virginia's commitment to the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement, which includes the goal of developing watershed plans for two thirds of the Bay's watersheds by 2010. Watershed planning was also required by state and federal regulations.

Little Hunting Creek was the first watershed in Fairfax County for which a plan was developed. According to the Fairfax County Stream Protection Strategy (2001), it was one of the five watersheds in the poorest condition in the county.

The Little Hunting Creek Watershed Management Plan was developed by a private engineering contractor (Woolpert LLP), with input from the Little Hunting Creek Steering Committee, in association with the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia. The county held public forums, attended by hundreds of people, to help increase community awareness and support.

Plan Implementation

The plan was completed in December 2004, accepted by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on February 7, 2005, and is now in the implementation phase. Consideration of the plan's policy recommendations was postponed until additional watershed management plans were complete.

Benefits of the Plan

When fully implemented, the plan will reduce the stormwater runoff peak flows in the primary tributaries, reduce nutrient loadings in the streams, and improve the stream habitat.

Provisions of the Plan

Because the watershed is already highly developed, there are limited opportunities to install new stormwater management facilities on a large scale. Rather, the plan aims to involve the public in actions to reduce runoff from their residences. Almost half of the impervious area in the watershed is roofs and driveways of residences. The plan calls for the county to:

Wetlands and vegetated buffers filter runoff from adjacent development, provide habitat for native plants and animals, and help protect streambanks from erosion. The plan calls for the county to:

In addition to sedimentation from stream bank erosion, pollution from other sources continues to degrade the water quality in the creek. The plan calls for the county to:

Because public participation is essential for restoring the watershed, public awareness is a necessary first step. The plan calls for the county to:

Changes in county policies are needed if meaningful improvements in water quality are to be achieved. For example, the plan calls for the county to: