Lynchburg Business Helps City Clean Stormwater Runoff

Lynchburg, VA- Virginia is working to comply with restrictions on stormwater runoff put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency.

As part of an effort to keep the Chesapeake Bay clean, the EPA wants nearby states to improve the quality of its stormwater before it gets into creeks, rivers, and ultimately the bay.

The city of Lynchburg has already been working on a rain garden cleansing system, but now a local company has stepped in with a different garden design, and a different way to pay for it.

Flowers and ferns may seem flimsy, but underground they're hard at work, especially at the rain gardens at Riverfront Park. They were designed and constructed by the City of Lynchburg to clean dirty stormwater before it gets into the James River.

"Not just a functional aspect of capturing and treating stormwater runoff, it's pretty too. It fits very well into the natural environment," said Erin Hawkins, the Water Quality Manager in Lynchburg.

That's where Proctor Harvey and his SAGE program come in. Harvey has been working on stormwater alternatives through green enhancement that are privately sponsored, so the city won't get underwater on their water cleansing efforts.

The idea for the public/private partnership came from an existing beautification program you've seen along the roadside.

"The dollars that were donated created beautification gardens. So we came up with the idea of, 'Gosh, why not make them stormwater beautification gardens?'" said Harvey of Harvey Design Land Architects.

"We were able to not only beautify our road systems, but we're also able to clean that runoff as it comes from the streets before it gets to the local streams," said Hawkins.

Harvey says the gardens aren't the ultimate solution to stormwater cleansing, but it's a good place to start.

"This will clean up 80 to 85 % of all the storms that go into one of these, rather than shooting it straight into a concrete ditch, into the pipe, into the creek, into the river, and into the Chesapeake," said Harvey.

Harvey says each rain garden costs about $20,000. They're still looking for sponsors for them.

The city has already picked a spot for their first garden. It will go in the median of the Lynchburg Expressway between the Graves Mill and Old Forest Road exits. Harvey is hoping to have it completed by November.

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