Arlington County receives nearly $300k to combat Chesapeake Bay pollution

County Board Chair Libby Garvey speaks at an EPA event at Lubber Run Community Center on March 27, 2024 (staff photo by James Jarvis)

Arlington is receiving nearly $300,000 in federal funds to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

The money is part of a much larger $206 million federal grant given to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Chesapeake Bay Trust to help protect and restore the largest estuary in the U.S.

Arlington County plans to use its portion of the funding to build Green Street rain gardens to filter and absorb stormwater runoff in the Barcroft neighborhood. Dubbed the Grandma’s Creek Watershed Improvements project, the rain gardens are meant to prevent further erosion and pollution of Grandma’s Creek, which feeds into the Chesapeake.

Additionally, the $282,400 grant will support tree planting, community education programs, and outreach to underserved communities.

“We’re partnering with Barcroft Elementary Schools — that’s a title one school just across the street — and through the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, we’re going to be reaching out to historically underserved populations here to help them enjoy nature,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey, speaking to a room full of community stakeholders and elected officials at the Lubber Run Community Center today (Wednesday).

Arlington is one among several localities and organizations that received federal funding. Other recipients include Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; Talbot County, Maryland; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

At the Lubber Run event, EPA Assistant Deputy Administrator Mark Rupp told attendees the $206 million grant primarily comes from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

“Under BIL, over $50 billion has been allocated to the EPA to improve our nation’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure,” he said.

Several federal elected officials also made an appearance at the event, including U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va) , U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va), U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va) and U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va).

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be here to celebrate what happens when we when we actually get really important bills like the bipartisan infrastructure law into place to help us build a more sustainable and resilient future,” Spanberger said during the event.

“And the Chesapeake Bay Program is such an extraordinary example of how we can leverage the investments and utilize them on the ground,” she continued.

When asked about the grant’s impact on Arlington residents, Garvey told ARLnow that the rain gardens would not only make Lubber Run Park less muddy but also, amid the challenges of climate change, improve water quality for both people and wildlife.

“Just simply, it cleans everything up and keeps it sustainable,” she said. “Also, as we get these huge storms, it will help manage the water better, so that we don’t have this huge runoff that creates all the problems. Controlling runoff with these huge mega storms that are more likely with climate change is a huge part of what we’re trying to do.”