Fort Belvoir protects natural water resources
By Kathy Alward, USAEC ContractorJune 8, 2020
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Located in Fairfax County, Virginia on 8,500 acres within the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds, Fort Belvoir is home to three refuges that conserve 1,750 acres and help protect the integrity of the watersheds. The Fort Belvoir Stormwater Team is the heart and soul of Fort Belvoir’s natural water resources conservation effort.“The Storm Water Team uses an iterative management approach to reduce risks, maintain compliance, and continually improve processes and programs,” said Sybille Vega, industrial stormwater program manager.Fort Belvoir’s goal is to remain a world-class installation, while maintaining a new standard of excellence in sustainable federal urban design and development, according to Felix Mariani, environmental chief.The Storm Water Team from the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Compliance Branch makes sure that stormwater structures are well maintained, making Fort Belvoir cleaner and more attractive for all of its residents. Team personnel educate the community on the importance of keeping storm water clean to ensure the preservation of natural water resources at public events such as Earth Day and Safety Day.Fort Belvoir operates under a plan developed by the Stormwater Team. The Master Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan outlines practices and controls used to protect the integrity of stormwater discharges and satisfy compliance requirements stated in both the installation’s individual industrial stormwater major permit and the municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) general stormwater permit.Accomplishments include 17 new stormwater control practices brought online, including the new Regional Pond in the historic district. The main purpose of the regional pond was to alleviate flooding issues due to the lack of stormwater management structures in the historic district. The pond is able to withstand a 100-year storm, has reduced nutrient and sediment loads from the area, and prevents stormwater damage that would result in costly repairs to buildings that are eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.More than 2,100 linear feet of streams have been restored thanks to the Stormwater Team efforts, and the team coordinated eight cleanups using about 300 volunteers to divert over 300 bags of trash from the watershed to proper disposal systems. Non-exposure conditions met at 16 facilities were identified and documented to increase the potential to have the sites removed from permitting requirements.The Stormwater Team informed others with approximately 20 stormwater education articles published in The Fort Belvoir Eagle. Additionally, 20 fact sheets were published on best management practices required to maintain compliance with ISW and MS4 permits.Extensive plan reviews are conducted by DPW-ED to ensure the most current standards for stormwater design are incorporated into projects. Team members have developed a strong working relationship with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality drastically decreasing the time needed to obtain VADEQ approval for plans. The benefits include increased efficiency by condensing the overall process, reduced contracting costs, and stakeholders staying on track without losing interest.American Water, Fort Belvoir’s privatized partner, uses a practice to dechlorinate when flushing water lines or uses the Neutral Output Discharge Elimination System flushing technique, for 50 percent of the installations’ drinking water system.“Millions of gallons of water are conserved, and costs associated with pumping, treating and flushing are decreased thanks to the NO-DES flushing technique,” said Fred Carter, director of public works.Fort Belvoir received a $7,490 grant from the National Environmental Education Foundation to host a public event in honor of National Public Lands Day in 2018. Volunteers planted 391 native wildflowers free of neonicotinoids, the pesticides that affect the central nervous system of insects and contribute to the rapid decline of many wild pollinator species, at the Fort Belvoir Golf Course. Thanks to these plantings existing pollinator and migratory bird habitats have improved and a new habitat that did not previously exist was created.Fort Belvoir Stormwater Team members cross-train and maintain a variety of essential and satellite certifications that help them identify potential problems before they arise and operate with expertise outside the realm of their usual role, such as in 2018 when three Stormwater Team members were certified through the 40-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training.Serious environmental issues faced by the state are addressed as Fort Belvoir staff participate in several VADEQ working groups. Fort Belvoir has participated in work groups with state agencies allowing the installation to speak on behalf of military and federal facilities when new requirements that could affect Army operations are being developed. Future planning considerations are aided with this early knowledge of upcoming regulations.