The Congress Heights Recreation Center is located in the Oxon Run watershed and is about four acres in size, one acre of which is impervious surface. This project involved the restoration of a woodland stormwater “ditch” on the south side of the recreation center.
Piped and buried years ago to promote development, this “ditch” at one point in time was an actively flowing stream! Open streams are important as they provide a nurturing habitat for plants and wildlife, including fish. Streams are resilient to flooding as they have large capacity and can flood their banks, whereas pipes are limited by their size. Healthy streams, floodplains, and wetlands also function as natural water treatment plants, filtering stormwater runoff of sediment and nutrients in place before they are transported downstream towards the Chesapeake Bay! High quality streams are attractive, healthy outdoor spaces for the community to enjoy. To find out more about what happened to the District streams, check out this storymap on Uncovering the History of the District's Buried Streams.
At the Congress Heights Recreation Center, stormwater from the surrounding areas is collected in a gulley on the south side of the property where it travels ~300’ where it disappears into a pipe until it reaches Oxon Run. Prior to restoration, the gulley was overgrown with several species of invasive plants, was a prime location for illegal dumping, the area experienced localized flooding due to years of deferred maintenance, and community members noted concerns with safety as the overgrown area was often used as a cut-through to access adjacent neighborhoods.
Restoration of this area included managing and removing the existing invasive plants through both mechanical and chemical means, removing dead trees, disposing of historically dumped trash/construction debris/landscaper waste, and “restoring” the “stream” with boulder step pools that safely convey storm flows while encouraging stormwater treatment and infiltration in the gully along the approximately 300’ long historic stream channel. Additionally, this effort included the installation of a water quality swale at the bend in Wheeler Hill Dr. SE to increase capture by the practice and help alleviate roadway flooding for adjacent residents.
How is it Maintained?:
Routine maintenance is necessary for all stormwater management practices. Routine maintenance for the Congress Heights stormwater gulley includes:
- Inlet cleaning: to make sure water will enter the practice (this task is especially important for the swale along Wheeler Hill Dr., SE)
- Trash removal
- Invasive plant management
- Spot weeding to promote growth of native plantings
This project is complete.