Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Last week, the Washington Post reported record rainfall statistics for communities all around the DC region:
“It has not been a friendly rain, either. Flash flooding continues to occur somewhere in our area with almost every passing wave.”
Damage from flooding in Arlington has been severe and widespread
Just a few examples illustrate the severity of the flooding Arlington residents have experienced from the unfriendly 2018 rain storms:
- Donaldson Run
In the Donaldson Run area, erosion and significant losses of mature trees due to a county remediation project have led to discussion and controversy among Donaldson Run-area residents and between those residents and county government.
This situation was profiled in a February 2018 story in the Donaldson Run Civic Association newsletter (at p. 5). Two more major flooding washouts occurred in May-June 2018.
The county government’s design of the stream restoration project remains very controversial. The county has not explained publicly how it plans to pay to remediate the effects of the 2018 Donaldson Run washouts nor all the other county-wide flooding incidents.
- Lubber Run
As ARLnow.com reported on August 7:
“A bridge for walkers and cyclists in Lubber Run Park is now closed, at least temporarily. An alert on the county’s website says the bridge, closest to N. George Mason Drive as a trail runs over Lubber Run itself, will be closed “until further notice.'”
According to a county spokesperson, this bridge was closed because a DPR crew “was concerned with the bridge, but they aren’t bridge experts.”
Residents report what appears to be significant erosion damage to various areas of the park near the Lubber Run stream bed. Quite a few mature trees along that stream bed appear to be endangered by excessive soil loss. The foundations of trail segments and existing stream-side borders appear undermined.
The bridge closure alert remains in effect. No plans have been announced publicly to reopen the bridge or to remediate the other apparent storm damage.
- Long Branch Creek
As an apparent result of the recent severe rainstorms, residents of Arlington’s Long Branch Creek neighborhood report recent erosion damage to areas along the Long Branch Creek stream bed between the Long Branch Nature Center and Four Mile Run.
- Waverly Hills
In a June column, I featured two graphic videos that capture the effects of severe flooding occurring in portions of the Waverly Hills neighborhood during a May 2018 storm. Another severe storm in July 2018 caused renewed severe flooding in Waverly Hills.
Three flooding mitigation projects previously were planned for Waverly Hills but were dropped from Arlington’s Capital Improvement Plan due to lack of funds.
In my Waverly Hills column, I recommended that Arlington adopt a new plan similar to Westchester County’s (NY) Flooding and Land Use manual.
One commenter asked why Arlington’s 2014 Stormwater Master Plan isn’t sufficient?
Answers to that commenter’s question include:
- Severe rainstorms that previously were rare now are much more common
- As Arlington continues to approve more and more development, the percentage of our land area covered by impervious surfaces has climbed to 45%, exacerbating stormwater runoff effects
The 2014 Plan isn’t working.
Arlington needs new approaches to development and stormwater planning that are:
- much more environmentally friendly
- better funded
The “unexpected” is now the new normal.