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The County of Henrico has embarked on an innovative new watershed assessment, restoration, and management program—the Stream Assessment/Watershed Management Program. The basis for this program is assessments of all streams within the County with 100 or more acres of drainage area. These assessments were used to categorize the County's watersheds. Various management measures will be employed to address the problems and goals specific to each. This approach has been developed to allow the County to meet all pertinent stormwater management regulations.

The Stream Assessment/Watershed Management Program was conducted in two phases. Phase 1 provided the program framework, stream assessment protocols, and database (Microsoft AccessTM)/Geographic Information System (GIS) applications. Phase 2 of the program dealt with the program's Countywide implementation, which includes Countywide stream assessments, identification of problems, data development in GIS and the database, classification of watersheds, identification of watershed management practices, and the development of program policies.

A customized Microsoft Access database was developed with user interfaces, field data-entry screens, and report-generation tools to provide an efficient means to enter, analyze, and extract data. The infrastructure inventory and the physical and biological data were also linked to an Arc-View-based GIS database to support visualization, spatial queries, and analysis of related information.

Data were collected through stream assessments performed on 422 miles of streams and 15 biological assessments. The data analysis performed placed the streams into three categories (good, fair, or poor), and provided biological health indicators, resulting in the designation of four watersheds management areas (preservation, enhancement, restoration and urban)

The stream assessments were conducted through habitat assessments and inventory of physical features in the streams based on protocols developed in Phase I. These assessments provided a baseline stream habitat condition through scoring of various habitat parameters and inventory of physical features such as dump sites, utilities, buffers, erosion, and others. These assessments provide an indication of overall stream condition that can be further extrapolated to indicate the condition of the associated watershed.

This project provided the County with a baseline of inventory, habitat and biological conditions, a prioritized list of problem areas and potential projects, and the allocation of watersheds into three management areas. The County has completed the Henrico County Environmental Program Manual (August 2001), which includes regulatory requirements and guidance on various management strategies for watersheds based on the Watershed Management Area. As the County moves toward implementation of a program to begin addressing the identified projects, it has developed an environmental fund to which developers in certain watersheds must contribute funds in lieu of building onsite BMPs. The County amended its municipal code and successfully petitioned the Commonwealth of Virginia to amend its code to implement the program.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-01-01

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