Feature Article - March 2014
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Water Works

Make the Most of Your Waterfront

By Rick Dandes


Restoration & Revenue Generation

Across the country from Texas, another huge project is underway in Maryland, a partnership between the designers and landscape engineers at Angler Environmental and the Prince William County (PWC) Department of Parks and Recreation in Virginia, with a goal of completing a stream mitigation bank on PWC park land.

"Imagine, we started this ongoing project in 2007, and it will restore or preserve over 22 miles of stream channel," said Donald Seaborn, principal, Angler Environmental, of Warrenton, Va.

The project is already a revenue generator, Seaborn said. "Because it is funded in its entirety by Angler, PWC receives improved water resources cost-free. Additionally, this project is unique in that it actually generates revenue for PWC via the sale of mitigation credits produced by Angler to local developers."

Seaborn estimates that Angler, acting as a mitigation bank, will generate about $3.5 million for PWC over the life of the bank. This funding can then be reinvested in conservation efforts for its public parks. To date, PWC has earned roughly $1 million from participating in PWEB. This economic gain is in addition to the environmental benefits of more than two miles of stream restoration on two park sites.

"We should note that not every restoration project makes a good mitigation project, as there are both ecological and economic requirements that must be fulfilled," Seaborn said. Necessary ecological factors include sufficient resource degradation, the availability of buffer areas adjacent to the restoration work, and adequate project size. In terms of economic requirements, projects must be located in a watershed with adequate demand for mitigation credits—that is, there must be active land development incurring stream or wetland impacts.

For the types of projects Angler typically undertakes—large-scale water resource restorations—Seaborn offered some additional advice.

"In terms of actual construction," he said, "dredging is usually a requirement for pond and lake projects and is often more expensive than local entities may anticipate. For stream restoration construction, a key element is restoring the stream in a natural way, which we believe ensures long-term channel viability.

During a water resource restoration project within a community or park, one of the biggest challenges is conveying that project's ultimate end goal during the construction process. A stream restoration project is still a construction project, and as such, it is messy, muddy and crowded with yellow equipment. Public access to community features, such as trails, may be limited for safety reasons, and although you can minimize tree felling, some trees typically must be removed to provide access paths for the equipment.

In the midst of these inconveniences, Seaborn said, it's important to encourage the public about the project, updating on-site signage and online materials with project background, timeframe for completion, closure updates and long-term benefits. Restoration efforts should be aimed at creating a space for the community to engage with nature via enhanced habitat, improved water quality and pleasing aesthetics.