The City of Alexandria is making it easier for locals who pitch in on flood prevention to skip out on their utility fees.
At a meeting last night, the City Council voted to adopt a series of changes to a utility fee credit program, including reducing the fee for residents who install flood mitigation on their property.
All property owners in Alexandria pay a stormwater utility fee based on the amount of impervious area — or hard surface — on their property. The Stormwater Utility Fee Credit Program allows local property owners to claim reductions on that fee.
Some of the changes should make is easier for locals to earn get that fee reduction.
“Property owners can earn credits to reduce the fee by installing and maintaining eligible stormwater management practices and filing an application to the City,” the city said in a release. “Applications can be submitted by searching for the property on the City’s Real Estate webpage or submitting a hardcopy form. Applications will be accepted from December 1 to February 15.”
According to the release, some of the changes from the meeting include:
- Simplified application process that removes duplicate items and streamlines documentation requirements
- Two-year credit applied to two consecutive calendar years – or four billing cycles – for approved applications for eligible practices
- Increased credits for individual eligible practices and increased overall potential maximum credit per application from 30% to 50%
- Previous applicants will be notified via email to reapply for the next two-year credit cycle starting in 2024
- Added credit option for preserving and maintaining existing mature trees and dry floodproofing practices
(Updated 5:45 p.m.) At an upcoming meeting, the City Council is scheduled to consider a grant application asking for $50 million for waterfront flood mitigation projects.
Last year, city staff put forward a variety of potential projects to add more flood resiliency to the waterfront, which has seen increasingly frequent flooding in recent years, but with cost estimates ranging from $170 to $215 million, some city leaders faced some sticker shock and have asked to scale down the projects.
That $50 million is the maximum amount that can be awarded through FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Grant Program.
The city’s flooding prevention projects have, in the past, gotten some boosts from state and national resources.
In addition to the national funding, the docket item for the application notes at a later date the Council will consider funding the local share of any related waterfront flood projects.
The application is scheduled for review at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
Except for the shots fired in the Braddock neighborhood, it’s been a relatively quiet week in Alexandria.
The water was still settling on Monday after the big drop on Friday: the Potomac Yard Metro station was going to be delayed until sometime in 2023 and the shutdown affecting Alexandria would be continued into November.
Beyond that, the top stories this week were a revisit of some of the old hits: Landmark Mall development, on-street dining, speed cameras and flooding.
- Developer opens up about next steps for Landmark Mall redevelopment
- Alexandria woman caught with gun at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport checkpoint
- No injuries or arrest after shots fired in Braddock area
- Alexandria looking to loosen up a little for on-street dining
- Alexandria’s first speed cameras headed to City Council review this month
- BREAKING: Potomac Yard Metro station opening pushed back to 2023
- New change to Alexandria manholes could help combat some stormwater flooding
- For fifth straight year, Alexandria makes Best Small City list by Condé Nast Traveler
- New e-bikes launch in Alexandria with $5 coupon
- Poll: Were you surprised by the Potomac Yard Metro station delay?
It’s a change that likely won’t go noticed by many Alexandrians, but the city is making an adjustment to its manholes that could have an impact on flooding during storms.
According to Flood Action Alexandria — an ongoing newsletter highlighting flooding issues and mitigation measures in Alexandria — the City of Alexandria is working on finding a contractor to install 870 stainless steel manhole inserts around the city.
“Manhole inserts are pan-shaped devices that sit at the top of the manhole, directly underneath the manhole cover,” the newsletter said. “They prevent stormwater inflow from gushing to the sanitary sewer after it enters the hole in the manhole cover.”
The inserts have a hole that slowly trains accumulated stormwater after the storm ends. The idea is to reduce inflow into the sanitary sewer system, which often becomes backed up during storms and contributes to flooding.
A map of where the manhole inserts will be located is shared online.
The newsletter also shared some updates on other flooding projects. The combined Commonwealth and East Glebe Road and Ashby and East Glebe Road project — which will increase the capacity of the storm sewer system — is in contract negotiations with an engineering firm ahead of moving into the design phase.
Two spot improvements, one at Oakland Terrace Timber Branch and another on Mount Vernon Avenue, are entering the construction phase.
The National Weather Service has issued an areal flood warning for Alexandria.
“Avoid small streams and do not drive through water on roadways,” a release from the city said.
The warning is in effect until midnight tonight.
According to the National Weather Service:
…FLOOD WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT EDT TONIGHT…
* WHAT…Flash flooding caused by excessive rainfall continues to be
* WHERE…Portions of DC, Maryland and northern Virginia, including
the following areas: in DC, District of Columbia. In Maryland,
Anne Arundel, Carroll, Central and Southeast Howard, Central and
Southeast Montgomery, Northern Baltimore, Northwest Harford,
Northwest Howard, Northwest Montgomery, Prince Georges, Southeast
Harford and Southern Baltimore. In northern Virginia,
Arlington/Falls Church/Alexandria, Eastern Loudoun and Fairfax.
* WHEN…Until Midnight EDT tonight.
* IMPACTS…Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers,
creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations.
* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…
– Showers and thunderstorms are expected this afternoon into
the evening as a cold front pushes through the area. Heavy
rainfall rates could produce localized rainfall amounts of 2
to 3 inches in a short period of time.
The interactive map shows all 35 ongoing projects around town, as well as two recently completed ones and seven future projects.
Intense flooding in recent years pushed the issue of flood mitigation into the limelight, pushing some local citizens to flood mitigation activism. While the city has moved forward on several flood mitigation projects, the new map is helpful for keeping track of those.
Clicking on each dot pulls up a snapshot of the project with information like cost, funding source, and a project timeline.
“This ‘project dashboard’ is a digital Geographical Information System (GIS)-based tool that allows users to view more than 40 currently-identified flood mitigation projects from a list or on a map to view the proposed solution, cost and estimated implementation schedules, among other information,” the city said in a release. “To explore information about the projects, click on the dots on the map. A window will pop up with information, including the type of project, status, cost, funding source and estimated construction start date.”
While it’s clear skies this morning, the forecast for rain comes after heavy rainfall last night.
“Avoid small streams and do not drive through water on roadways,” the City of Alexandria said in a release.
1020 AM EDT Fri Aug 5 2022
…FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM EDT THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH THIS EVENING…
* WHAT…Flash flooding caused by excessive rainfall is possible. […]
* WHEN…From 3 PM EDT this afternoon through this evening.
* IMPACTS…Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations.
* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…
– Showers and thunderstorms will develop this afternoon and may last into the evening. Any thunderstorms will be capable of producing very heavy rainfall, with localized totals of two to four inches possible. Much of the rain may fall within a one to three hour period, making rapid rises in creeks and streams possible, as well as flash flooding in urban areas.
You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.
Some of the city’s biggest flood mitigation projects have been making progress in recent months.
In the same Flood Action Alexandria newsletter that highlighted some record-breaking rainfall in July, the city said two of the top-ranking, large capacity flood mitigation projects have “reached notable milestones.”
The first is that a firm has been selected to handle the project at Commonwealth Avenue and East Glebe Road/Ashby Street and East Glebe Road, two separate plans mergedearlier this year into one $50 million project. The city is currently in negotiations with the selected firm.
According to the newsletter:
The project, which combined two projects in adjacent neighborhoods, will increase the capacity of the storm sewer system to allow stormwater conveyance. The project will also incorporate low impact development elements — commonly referred to as “green infrastructure” — to allow stormwater to soak into the ground to reduce runoff. A grant from the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund awarded to the City in October will support portions of these projects. The estimated cost for design and construction is $50 million.
The second project is the Hoofs Run culvert bypass, and the newsletter says the city hasn’t selected a firm yet but has narrowed its list of qualified contractors.
“The project will carry water from Timber Branch in a new stormwater management system that involves conveyance to improve the system’s performance and reduce flooding,” the newsletter said. “The estimated cost for design and construction is $60 million.”
More information on both projects is available on the city website.
The Flood Action Alexandria newsletter, prepared by Flood Action Alexandria communications specialist Amanda Dolasinski, noted that a storm on July 9 set the record for rainfall recorded before 7 a.m. The newsletter said the city saw nearly 4 inches of rainfall in the northeast section of Alexandria and pushed Four Mile Run to to the 10-foot stage at Shirlington Road Bridge.
“The Four Mile Run rain gauge in the northeast part of the City recorded 3.92 inches of rain at the 24-hour mark of the July 9 storm, with most rainfall recorded before 7 a.m.” the newsletter said. “The storm was classified as a 10%- to 12%-chance-per-year storm, meaning the rainfall produced exceeded the probability with a 10% chance of being equal in any given year.”
Despite the quantity of rainfall, the newsletter said the intensity was less dramatic and the city didn’t see the same levels of severe flooding as it has in the past.
“Fortunately, the intensities were less dramatic than in past large storm events,” Brian Rahal, a civil engineer for the Stormwater Management Division, said in the newsletter. “It appears the urban flash flooding was at a minimum.”
Alexandria and areas nearby are under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch this evening and a Flood Watch.
“Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations,” the Flood Watch reads. “Afternoon to evening showers and thunderstorms may produce very heavy rainfall capable of flash flooding. This could include multiple rounds of storms which would enhance the flood risk. Rainfall rates may reach 1 to 2 inches per hour, locally higher in spots. The D.C. and Baltimore metros will be the most susceptible given recent heavy rainfall the past couple of weeks.”
The National Weather Service advises residents to monitor forecasts and be prepared in case of flash floods.
— NWS Baltimore-Washington (@NWS_BaltWash) July 18, 2022