Want to reduce stormwater runoff on your land? This Arlington County program can help

The StormwaterWise Landscapes Program gives Arlington residents the opportunity to install best practices on their property at a discounted price.

rain garden in arlington
A rain garden implemented outside of an Arlington resident’s home as a result of the project. (Photo courtesy of Aileen Winquist)

Here in Northern Virginia, residents are no amateurs when it comes to handling rain. From light spring showers to summer flood warnings, we’ve seen it all, and we tend to be well-prepared prior to the storm’s arrival.

But dealing with the aftermath of rainfall here in NoVA can be more complicated, especially when it comes to stormwater runoff, which is rainwater with excess pollutants such as oil, bacteria, dirt and lawn chemicals. If not properly managed, those harmful pollutants can be carried into Northern Virginia streams and waterways, such as the nearby Chesapeake Bay, damaging the ecosystems that exist within them. 

According to the Center for Watershed Protection, stormwater runoff is the number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas. And in Arlington County, the Department of Environmental Services has been working toward mitigating this issue with its StormwaterWise Landscapes Program, made possible by the County and EcoAction Arlington.

ugly cracked driveway with pink garage in arlington
An Arlington County resident’s driveway before contractors renovated it, as part of the permeable pavement project option. (Photo courtesy of Aileen Winquist)

The program supports four types of projects—rain gardens, pavement removal, conservation landscapes and the replacement of previous surfaces—that help to collect or slow stormwater, and also give the outside of your home a makeover. For interested residents, the process is pretty simple, in that you don’t have to plan the design yourself or pay for the reconstruction process. All one has to do is apply for the program online to be entered into a lottery system, and hope to be randomly chosen for the maximum reimbursement of $2,500. 

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“All local governments in the Watershed have specific targets of pollution to remove, and for us, key pollutants of concern are nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment,” says Watershed Outreach Program Manager Aileen Winquist. “People typically have a 50% chance of being selected.”

newly paved driveway
The final result of a permeable pavement project at an Arlington County resident’s home. (Photo courtesy of Aileen Winquist)

While the county typically grants about 40 individuals with the landscaping changes, that number recently increased to 60 participants due to the extensive rainfall Northern Virginia faced last year. 

Once people are chosen, program leaders make a visit to the site, give general recommendations of changes that should be made and then provide residents with a list of possible contractors to choose from, all of whom have attended a training regarding sustainable landscaping projects. To make things easier for the chosen residents, the county has a timeline dictating when each step of the project should happen and, as of now, projects are in the initial construction phase with tentative completion dates set for the end of October. 

Other local counties offer similar programs, all with one goal in mind: mitigate stormwater runoff and protect our local waterways. 

Are you an Arlington resident interested in applying for the next cycle of the program? Click here to learn more.

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