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Fredericksburg lands $3.25 million grant to reduce, treat stormwater runoff

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PHOTO: Water treatment plant (copy)

Public works official Martin Schlesinger gives City Council a tour of the water treatment plant in 2019.

A $3.25 million grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has Fredericksburg officials believing the city is on the right track when it comes to tackling stormwater runoff issues.

The grant funds will come from the VDEQ’s stormwater local assistance fund, and the money will aid Fredericksburg in improving the city’s overall stormwater quality and its effects on the Rappahannock River.

City Manager Tim Baroody said the grant is another step in the right direction for the environmental health of the city, particularly after former Gov. Ralph Northam’s final budget included $27 million for wastewater plant upgrades.

Baroody said the acquisition of more than $30 million in state funds demonstrate “our proactive efforts in seeking to reduce burdens on our residents and businesses,” as the money will offset local costs of Capital Improvement Projects in the city.

The Fredericksburg Public Works Department submitted two grant applications last July to the VDEQ to address the required reduction of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments in stormwater runoff.

The first project to receive grant funding is adjacent to the Idlewild neighborhood.

A preliminary study by Wetlands Studies and Solutions identified several stream segments in that area that experience very high to extreme erosion rates along more than a mile.

Restoration work to fix that issue would include stabilizing eroding portions, addressing bacterial and aquatic habitat impairments and promoting channel/floodplain reconnection.

The second project that will benefit from the funds is an improvement of the existing stormwater management structure along Smith Run.

“Pond D” was constructed 20 years ago to manage runoff from the development. A study of the structure suggests modifications may be made by excavating to provide more storage volume to treat runoff.

Adam Lynch, who is the river steward for Friends of the Rappahannock, said the funding of these two projects will reduce the volume of pollutants in the river.

“These water quality improvements will have wide-ranging benefits from local streams like Hazel Run all the way to the Chesapeake Bay,” Lynch said. “The water quality improvements enabled by this funding will pay off over the long term by making the Rappahannock River cleaner, safer and more productive.”

City officials are now exploring design options for the two projects with plans to engage the nearby communities as more information becomes available.

Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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I've been covering Fredericksburg area communities since 2002, mainly as a sports reporter. I occasionally cover local government, as well.

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