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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

District of Columbia Section 319 Success Stories, Vol. III


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Marsh Restoration & Island Enhancement Projects at Kingman Lake:
Tidal Wetland Habitats Re-created

 


Contact:
Dr. Hamid Karimi
D.C. Department of Health
51 N Street, NE, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20002
202-535-2240
Primary Sources of Pollution:

wetlands dredging/filling
Primary NPS Pollutants:

sediment
Project Activities:

wetland restoration

recreational/habitat enhancements
Results:

mudflat transformed into wetland

monitoring in progress
Kingman Lake is not a true lake, but a 110-acre tidal freshwater impoundment created during the 1920s and 1930s to provide a recreational boating area for District of Columbia residents. The lake is connected to the tidal Anacostia River by two inlets located at the northern and southern ends of Kingman Island, a wooded 94-acre dredge/fill-created island that separates the lake from the river.

Years of sedimentation had turned Kingman Lake, once a tidal marsh, into a mudflat.

Years of sedimentation had turned Kingman Lake, once a tidal marsh, into a mudflat.

Historically, the area emerged as an expansive freshwater tidal marsh, renowned for its migratory sora rail population. As wetlands were dredged and filled, many such migratory birds stopped coming. The open water tidal "lake" gradually filled with sediment until the dominant low tide feature was a mudflat. Because of the lack of suitable substrate elevation, most species of emergent marsh vegetation have not been established over the existing mudflats.

From mudflats to wetlands

With support of section 319 funding, in 2000 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, led the restoration of 42 acres of the freshwater tidal emergent wetland in Kingman Lake. Other key partners included the U.S. National Park Service, the D.C. government, and neighboring Prince George's County in Maryland. The primary goal of the restoration plan is to restore historically significant wetlands, thereby enhancing the habitat diversity and structure of an area currently dominated by unvegetated tidal mudflats.

To re-create vegetated tidal wetland habitats, the morphology of the lake was altered by filling and grading existing lake mudflats with Anacostia River dredge material. Establishing new (higher) substrate levels on Kingman mudflats was key to creating an environment suitable for the growth of emergent wetland macrophytes, which can tolerate only moderate levels of tidal inundation.

Approximately 700,000 emergent wetland plants were planted in the newly elevated and graded mudflat areas. It was soon discovered that goose exclusion fencing would be necessary to prevent the plants from becoming a "free lunch" for the lake's resident Canada goose population. The fencing will allow the plants to gain a foothold during their first crucial growing season.

In concert with the wetland restoration work, Kingman Island is also being restored. The restoration primarily involves the removal of materials that historically have been dumped on the island. A number of low-impact actions are also under consideration, including the removal of invasive exotic plants. Also being considered is the construction of ramps and a floating boat dock for canoes and kayaks, as well as an interpretive nature trail for the recreational enjoyment of District residents. Enhancement of habitat for resident and migrating wildlife is also considered a priority. It might take the form of bird boxes, nesting areas for ospreys and eagles, and bat boxes, as well as artificial deadfalls and snags for species-specific nesting.

The restoration project has succeeded in transforming Kingman Lake back into a marsh.

The restoration project has succeeded in transforming Kingman Lake back into a marsh.

Ongoing monitoring

A prerestoration study will establish a baseline data set of aquatic biota and water quality parameters by collecting monthly water quality data and conducting a multiyear summer seasonal assessment of the benthic macroinvertebrate, fish, plankton, and bird communities living in or using Kingman Lake. After restoration is complete, the study will continue for 5 years to determine the relative impact of the restoration efforts on the water quality and the aquatic community.

Implementing these two significant restoration projects in the main stem of the Anacostia River is important not only for the improvements to wildlife habitat or water quality. The projects also demonstrate the success of large-scale environmental restoration projects involving multiple federal and local government agencies and funding sources.
 



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The Watts Branch Initiative:
Community Involvement Key to Success

 


Contact:
Dr. Hamid Karimi
D.C. Department of Health
51 N Street, NE, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20002
202-535-2240
Primary Sources of Pollution:

urban runoff

sewer overflows
Primary NPS Pollutants:

fecal coliform bacteria

sediment

nutrients
Project Activities:

streambank stabilization

education/outreach
Results:

monitoring in progress

riparian buffers established (1,600 plants)
Watts Branch is the largest and one of the most polluted tributaries of the Anacostia River. It flows from Maryland into the District of Columbia for 4 miles. About 80 percent of the stream's watershed is urban residential and commercial property; less than 15 percent is forested. Because of its location, the stream corridor is affected by runoff from a primarily impervious area. It is plagued by trash and debris dumped into the stream by local and upstream residents and businesses. The tributary is also a source of excessive fecal coliform bacteria loadings attributed to overflows from faulty sewers.

The Environmental Health Administration of the District's Department of Health established the Watts Branch Task Force to coordinate restoration of the Watts Branch watershed. The Task Force created the multiphased Watts Branch Watershed Initiative, which includes streambank stabilization and restoration, education and community outreach, and a strategy to prevent illegal dumping.

Many young people from the District helped plant trees throughout the Watts Branch watershed.

Many young people from the District helped plant trees throughout the Watts Branch watershed.

Public-private partnerships

The success of the Watts Branch Task Force has primarily been the result of its ability to effectively create partnerships between the public and private sectors and promote a high level of community involvement. Some 1,600 native trees, shrubs, and plants have been established to create and extend the Watts Branch riparian buffer. Through the efforts of the Task Force, in partnership with the Anacostia River Business Coalition and the Earth Conservation Corps, the work was funded largely through a section 319 grant. Section 319 funding also supported streambank stabilization efforts in the spring of 2001, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Money from Washington, D.C.'s Summit Fund supported the purchase of three surveillance cameras that are now being used by the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police Department to monitor illegal dumping in and around Watts Branch. A grant from the Summit Fund also supported a community education day in the park, which helped to spread the word about illegal dumping, nonpoint source pollution, and the importance of riparian buffer plantings to the stream.

Plans for the future

Future work will address riparian and aquatic habitat concerns, as well as water quality impacts from sediment and nutrients. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide monitoring assistance and will use the information it gathers to develop designs for areas still in need of stream restoration. The projected completion date for the stream restoration work is October 2004. The District of Columbia anticipates that continued stream restoration work will be funded through the District's 319 nonpoint source program.


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