Urban Runoff: Still a Problem,
Still a Priority
The artist had set up his easel to paint a
bucolic autumn scene, a quiet brook meandering through Richmond’s Bryan Park.
But an oily sheen on the water, the smell of
diesel fuel in the air, and a large containment boom across the stream made for a
The artist said to a news reporter dispatched to the oil slick in Jordan’s Branch,
an urban stream draining a heavily industrialized Richmond neighborhood, he
thought he’d just “leave the boom out of
Were it so easy to remove the oil and other
pollution from the water. All across
Virginia urban streams like Jordan’s Branch
are plagued by oil, grease, litter, fertilizer,
silt, and other pollution washing off the
land whenever it rains. So widespread are
problems that reducing urban and suburban runoff is among the key goals of the
Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the
regional plan to restore the Bay and its
rivers and streams.
In Virginia, CBF continues to work hard
to help localities better manage urban
and suburban runoff through education,
technical assistance, funding, and on-the-ground restoration.
CBF’s Virginia Office has:
• Sponsored local workshops aimed at helping planning and utility officials better
understand the challenges and solutions.
• Partnered with Lynchburg, Falls Church,
and Onancock to engage city residents in
runoff-reduction programs, improve water
quality with projects like permeable pavers
and rain gardens, and track progress.
• Hosted local officials on boat and canoe
trips that explore local waterways and
stimulate discussion about local runoff
problems and solutions.
•Piloted whole-community projects in
Richmond aimed at restoring urban
streams by engaging citizens and volunteers in cleanups, “scoop-the-poop”
campaigns, tree plantings, and pollution- reduction workshops.
• Bought to uphold the state’s runoff regu-latory program and to ensure strong,
protective permits are issued to large
•Aggressively lobbied the governor
and General Assembly for adequate
funding for Virginia’s Stormwater Local
Assistance Fund that helps localities plan
and install runoff reduction projects.
CBF and a coalition of stakeholders successfully backed a $35 million appropriation in fiscal 2014, $32 million in fiscal
2015, and is actively supporting continued funding in the next legislative session.
“Runoff pollution is still a growing threat to
the health of the Bay and Virginia rivers
and streams,” Virginia Executive Director
Ann Jennings said. “It also threatens our
quality of life and economy, flooding
homes, damaging roads and buildings, and
closing beaches and shellfish areas.”
“Fortunately, local governments can control polluted runoff with cost-effective and
straightforward practices that clean local
waterways and boost local economies. CBF
will continue to support their efforts however we can.”
uTo learn more about what CBF is doing in
Virginia, visit cbf.org/Virginia.
Local economies and
waterways will benefit
from the Chesapeake Clean
Rain barrels are one way homeowners
can help reduce urban runoff.
CBF volunteers plant a rain garden to capture runoff from a Richmond school playground.