Regional Pond Program Changes in Fairfax County

A major change to stormwater and watershed management protocols in Fairfax County is underway. Regional ponds will no longer be considered the first choice to alleviate problems associated with increased stormwater flows, but instead be considered just one of many tools available for stormwater management. This could delay projects that rely upon future regional ponds, or cause the need for temporary on-site ponds, and lead to lot loss in some situations.

In January, 2002 Fairfax County staff formed a 15-person, multi-agency Regional Pond Subcommittee (per a Board of Supervisors directive) to develop a unified position on the use of regional ponds and other types of stormwater controls and watershed management tools currently being used in the County. Specifically, the committee was tasked with reviewing Fairfax County's Regional Stormwater Management Plan, adopted in 1989, which provides for a system of regional stormwater management facilities within the County's developing watersheds.

As a result of Subcommittee research and public outreach, the Subcommittee developed a report, “The Role of Regional Ponds in Fairfax County’s Watershed Management", which was released in March, 2003. This report details key elements of the County's proposed watershed management changes, which include:

"• Revise the current County policy regarding regional ponds to reflect these recommendations [by County staff subcommittee and the public], in particular designating regional ponds as just one of many stormwater management tools.

 • Develop recommendations for stormwater management practices as part of the watershed planning process.

 • Until watershed plans are completed, use an interim decision matrix as the guidance for determining whether regional ponds are appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Initiate pilot project to validate this interim matrix.

 • Develop a second matrix for use in preparing watershed management plans. This matrix should provide options when considering and evaluating stormwater management alternatives.

 • Carefully evaluate the impacts on stormwater management systems, including streams, when making land use decisions.

 • In watersheds where regional facilities are planned, require temporary on-site facilities until regional ponds or equivalent stormwater practices are implemented.

 • Establish conditions on stormwater detention (water quantity) and BMP (water quality) waivers to ensure that measures are provided to offset, to the greatest extent practicable, the impacts of the waivers being granted.

 • Ensure that waivers dealing with stormwater controls and floodplain management are granted only in concurrence with watershed management plans.

 • Use alternatives to regional ponds where consistent with the watershed management plans. When regional ponds are warranted, use techniques to reduce the impacts of the pond.

 • Allocate adequate resources to accomplish these recommendations." (The Role of Regional Ponds In Fairfax County's Watershed Management, March 2003)

Currently, watershed management plans are incomplete and, therefore, implementation procedures have not been identified, nor has a time estimate been established for installing any proposed procedures. Public hearings to gather comments on the report and findings have been held in the immediate past weeks, with last two as recent as this past Tuesday and Thursday, May 6th and 8th.

Refer to the complete report "The Role of Regional Ponds In Fairfax County's Watershed Management" for detailed information on this subject.

If you have specific questions, contact: Frank Graziano at fgraziano@wetlandstudies.com or Bill Nell at bnell@wetlandstudies.com.