Stormwater leads to increased erosion due to rapid flow of runoff

A coalition of three area environmental groups has made several recommendations to the City of Charlottesville on ways to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that enters into the watershed. City Planning Commission Chairman Jason Pearson said a work session will be scheduled in the near future to take up the recommendations in detail.


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The University of Virginia School of Law’s Environmental and Conservation Clinic, the Rivanna Conservation Society and the Southern Environmental Law Center collaborated

on the report

, which features a combination of zoning ordinance changes, new incentives and suggestions for further study. The general goal is to limit the amount of impervious surfaces, which channel storm water into fast moving streams that pick up oil and other pollutants along the way. When these impromptu streams enter existing waterways, they move rapidly, increasing the forces that cause erosion.

Ridge Schuyler, the Director of the Nature Conservancy’s Piedmont Program, said the recommendations are in line with the City Council’s Green Cities Initiative. Schuyler was invited to the meeting to provide feedback and said sedimentation caused by runoff is the biggest threat to the health of the Rivanna River ecosystem, and applauded any efforts that would allow for development that has a lighter footprint.

Morgan Butler, an SELC attorney, presented the recommendations to the City Planning Commission and City Council on May 13, 2008. They fall into five general categories:

The recommendations got a fairly positive response from the Commission and City Council, and are now before City staff for review. A Planning Commission work session will sift through the details later this year.

Sean Tubbs

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