by Madison White Franks
KILMARNOCK—A major sediment reduction and stream restoration project is coming to a successful end in Kilmarnock this week, according to planning and zoning administrator Marshall Sebra.
He indicated there was a problem with erosion, calling for improvements at two sites. The project to install pollution reduction features and restore streams was funded by grants.
Many sites within the town were developed prior to the consideration of stormwater runoff and its effects on water quality. A project description document indicated that impervious cover from these sites, including buildings, parking lots and driveways, transport a variety of contaminants that may degrade water quality.
Over time, the volume of water that has run off has created areas of severe sediment erosion.
Sebra said the town wanted to do its part beyond future development and redevelopment to serve as an example of what a locality can do to protect and enhance water quality.
Project expenses totaled approximately $374,000, however there is no cost to the town, said Sebra.
“By stopping the erosion problem…we can reduce pollution into the Rappahannock and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Richard Moncure of Friends of the Rappahannock.
A formal plan began in 2013 to begin the process of improving Kilmarnock’s stormwater runoff at two prioritized sites. The first location, the Sal’s site, is in a wooded area between 466 and 488 North Main Street. James Beane and Richard Russell own the property. The runoff from some 11.57 acres of land flows through this one location. The second site is adjacent to Lancaster Middle School at 85 School Street. The property is owned by the Town of Kilmarnock and Northern Neck LLC and runoff from 17 acres flows through this location. Both sites are within the Eastern Branch of the Corrotoman River Watershed.
“The head cuts in Kilmarnock were created by many years of runoff from impervious surfaces in and around the town and were continually getting bigger as more erosion occurred,” said nonpoint source specialist Sam Johnson of the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District.
This project will reduce sediment and nutrient pollution by stabilizing and reshaping nearly 1,000 linear feet of headwater stream reaches, which is expected to cause reductions of 812 tons per year of sediment, 706 pounds per year of total nitrogen and 280 pounds per year of phosphorus.
The project also will improve groundwater and surface water hydrology by slowing down water runoff, increasing infiltration and creating wetlands. It will reduce risks to infrastructure and safety by stabilizing channels and reducing stormwater runoff velocity and improve physical habitat for a headwater biotic community. This project will preserve existing native vegetation and provide transferable materials for other regional restoration efforts and provide educational lessons by conducting events for various groups and students.
The contractor on the project, Ecotone Inc., indicated that there are 500 tons of boulder type rocks and 250 tons of smaller rip rap between the two sites.
“This size project is significant and we have not seen a practice of such scope in the area before. We applaud the town for making such an effort to protect water quality,” said Johnson.
Sebra said the project has been an educational experience for local sixth-grade classes. Their environmental science lesson included hands on experience with erosion and how stormwater can contribute pollutants into the water.
This shows how a locality can step in and help protect water quality, said Sebra.
“Kilmarnock is embracing and showcasing that they are a premiere river town,” said Moncure.
Organizations that have supported and have been a part of this project are the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ecosystem Services, Ecotone Inc., Virginia Department of Environmental Equality, Friends of the Rappahannock, Center for Watershed Protection, the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District, Friends of Lancaster, Northern Neck Planning District Commission, Virginia Department of Transportation and Lancaster County.