Highland Park – Overlee Knolls
Tara Leeway Heights
August 19, 2019
Dear Members of the County Board,
Our four civic associations comprise the Torreyson Run watershed, and our residents and businesses suffered a great deal from the July 8th storm that overwhelmed the county’s storm water management systems. We would like to work with you to ensure storm water management improvements in our watershed.
We understand that the increase in impermeable surfaces, loss of mature trees, and warming atmosphere have and will cause more frequent and more extreme flooding. The Arlington County Watershed Planning Workshop from a decade ago (and the source of the watershed map) highlighted these factors as causes of flooding. https://projects.arlingtonva.us/wp-
We also understand that the storm water pipe system is woefully inadequate and incoherent, and that little has been done to mitigate this problem. An Arlington Department of Environmental Services map from 2014 (included in this letter, below) provides a couple examples. Two pipes totaling 11 feet wide connect to a pipe less than 3 feet wide under the Westover parking lot. A similar mismatch appears in Parkhurst Park. See the image at the end of this letter. Residents should be able to assume that Arlington County is taking care of critical infrastructure. Clearly this is not the case in our watershed.
Arlington can address its storm water management with greater urgency through engineering, landscaping, permitting, and the bully pulpit. We consider this work a major responsibility of governance in the 21st century.
Over the past month, citizens in our civic associations have informally offered the following comments about specific sites—and we expect additional ideas from a formal query, which we will send separately:
- The Lee Highway commercial strip is at our headwaters. What can we do to encourage landlords to increase permeability? The Rivendell School on Lee Highway is now rebuilding and expanding. Is there a robust storm water management plan place?
- Construction firms are covering entire lots with single-family spec houses. One recent example is at the intake of a storm water pipe on Madison and 21st. There must be some creative way, even with the Dillon Rule, to deter a trend that is harming so many in the community.
- The “Mosquito Park” is county park land bound by Lexington, 20th Rd, 21st St., and 22nd St. Would installing a giant storm water detention vault underground, connected to the existing storm water system be a part of the solution?
- Parkhurst Park’s playground is a hardscape covered with rubber, and it is a convergence site in the watershed. The rain garden system was designed to absorb runoff from the playground only. Following construction, adjacent houses immediately witnessed new flooding that has become worse. Can the county build additional rain gardens in the vicinity of the park?
- APS will build Reed School over the next two years. Is there more that can be done to minimize impermeable surfaces? Can detention vaults be installed?
We appreciate the County Board’s responsiveness in assessing the damage, applying for FEMA assistance, and establishing the local recovery center to assist storm victims. We are now looking for enhancements to storm water management in the Torreyson Run watershed to circumvent similar disasters.
We would like to invite you and your experts to a combined meeting of our four civic associations early this fall to discuss the way forward. At the meeting, we would appreciate and update on the County’s plans for the Torreyson Run watershed.
Kathleen Trainor, President HPOK CA
Michael Weinstein, President Leeway Overlee CA
John Ford, President Tara Leeway Heights CA Lilith Christiansen, President Westover Village CA