News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Floodmageddon 2011: Whither the Stinky Bridge, and Other Questions About Stream Cleanup

110916_Storm_Report.pdf (page 4 of 7).jpg

You may remember that the Reston Association said that the newly restored sections of Glade and Snakeden fared extremely well during the 500-year flooding a few weeks back. Some members of Save the Glade, a group that has served as a watchdog for the stream restoration project since its inception several years back, are questioning that assessment. Here's one such comment from an e-mail on the Save the Glade listserv "obtained by Restonian:"
Larry Butler's video linked on the WSSI web page and his statement that only a total of some 300' of stream needs repair should be of special interest to you if you are a person who believes your own eyes.
In its own report (PDF), WSSI said that "our inspections found that the streams fared very well despite the extreme weather, especially in the areas where the vegetation had been established for a couple of growing seasons." WSSI did state that work needed to be done cleaning debris, repairing loose fabric, replanting, and redistributing sediment washed downstream. It also said the damage was more severe in the newly remediated stretches of Colvin Run, where "many of the newly installed plants washed away because their roots were unable to fully establish in this short timeframe."

The Folks at Save the Glade aren't quite as optimistic, pointing out additional damage and posting dozens of photos like this one to their listserv:

Overview_Of_Damage_To_Reston_s_Restored_Streams_By_Tropical_Storm_Lee-Sept_2011_©Jon_O._Clarke.pdf (page 9 of 14).jpg
Tropical Storm Lee was the first real test of the design and construction of the stream restoration work in The Glade that we all labored so long and hard to shape to an acceptable outcome. I went out last evening and again this morning to look for damage, of which there was plenty, e.g., all three new bridges I looked at in Reach 4 were damaged, with the replacement for the original "Stinky Bridge" just downstream from the Tot Lot recording the greatest washout, as shown in the attached photo. RA bridges, pathways, and other facilities also suffered damage....

While it is true that the storm was not an unmitigated disaster for the restored streams and many stream sections are sound, I found much to be troubling, especially in the face of the "glow" being put on the outcome of the storm by WSSI/RA.
To be fair, it was a 500-year-storm. Save the Glade argues this matters because of the complex stream remediation agreement between the RA and WSSI, which established a fund for this sort of repair work that the watchgdog group believes requires some sort of oversight:
The damage that was done to the stream banks and structures represents "chinks in the armor" that are likely to lead to further damage by lesser storms in the future. If repairs are made only to the most spectacular failures, the integrity and longevity of the restored streams is open to question.
There you have it. Also, as a tip, do not look up the term "stinky bridge" in the Urban Dictionary, the end.

1 comment:

  1. "500 Year floods" don't come only every 500 years.

    People in eastern Iowa learned that a few years ago when a 500-year flood was followed about 5 years later by a 1,000-year flood!

    ... they didn't have the wonders of stream remediation, just an Army Corps of Engineers dam that WAAAY overflowed! Billions in damages!


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