Stream Research Initiative

The Northern Virginia Stream Restoration Bank (NVSRB), located in Reston, Virginia, is our platform for developing and improving methods to improve the function and/or condition of urban streams via improved restoration protocols and to evaluate those methods using existing and new physical, chemical, and biological metrics. The goals of this particular research initiative are to (a) identify practices that provide physical and measurable increases in functions and values to urban streams, and (b) to develop improved design practices, supported by rigorous data collection, that the Norfolk District Interagency Review Team (IRT) can implement in other stream restoration projects and in future Mitigation Banking Instruments (MBI).

These research projects are focused on two restored streams in Reston, Virginia: Snakeden and The Glade (part of NVSRB). Each stream is ±20,000 linear feet and has a maximum drainage area of approximately one square mile, with significantly different levels of impervious cover. The first phase of research is focused on creating a baseline data set (water quality and quantity measurements), as well as a pilot study to determine if the introduction of freshwater mussels in these urban streams is a viable proposition before committing significant resources to a large scale mussel stocking program.

Documents pertaining to each research topic are available on the individual research pages.

Stream Monitoring

The basic goals for this RFP are to implement appropriate monitoring protocols to document baseline conditions within these restored urban streams, and then to compare these current/initial conditions over time to results from post-restoration/water quality improvement practice implementation and associated monitoring data sets. This work is being conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The primary objectives of this RFP are:

  1. To establish at least two years of baseline rainfall, water flow, water quality, and biological stream monitoring data.
  2. To continue monitoring these metrics while a range of new projects to improve water quality are implemented throughout the watersheds (expected to be accomplished over a two-year period) through a series of future related RFPs.
  3. To further extend the post-implementation monitoring period for two additional years to quantify post-implementation benefits.

Mussel Introduction & Performance in an Urban Stream Environment

It is widely recognized that freshwater mussels have the ability to filter stream water at a prodigious rate, improving water quality, and thereby potentially keeping local streams, rivers, and receiving estuaries cleaner. Within urbanized settings such as Reston, the possibility of utilizing mussels to improve both local water quality and that of larger receiving systems is quite intriguing. The initial phase of this program was conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University and addressed if mussels would be able to survive in two urban streams with medium and high levels of imperviousness (for suburban areas) prior to deploying a larger scale effort that would also measure associated water quality effects. Based on the results of this first component study, we are currently supporting Virginia Tech in a second study to determine whether we can establish a reproducing population of mussels and how much pollution (TSS, TN and TP) they can remove. This second project is closely integrated with the Stream Monitoring project by USGS that is described above.