City of Alexandria Combats “The Armored Shore”

For many years scientists have been worried about the abundance of soft shorelines or natural shorelines that are being replaced by armored stone shorelines which deprive organisms, young fish and crabs of food and shelter.  Marine biologists noticed years ago that submerged aquatic vegetation, (SAV) declined near hardened walls.  In response, living shorelines are becoming a more widely accepted and utilized technique for stabilizing failing and eroded shorelines.

In accordance with the EPA’s expectations, Virginia’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for the Chesapeake Bay has been divided into three phases of implementation.  The details of these phases are still being developed; however, the WIP allows for less costly projects to be initiated first.  The WIP contains pollution load allocations for nitrogen, phosphorous, and suspended solids which vary depending on the land use sector.  The land use sectors include wastewater treatment plants, agriculture, forest, urban storm water septic and air sources that contribute to the nutrient and sediment problems for the Chesapeake Bay.



Fortunately, the City of Alexandria is already funding projects to create living shorelines in-place of failing bulkheads along the Potomac River; an example is at Windmill Hill Park.  First established as a park in 1945, Windmill Hill Park sits on former marshland on the Potomac that was filled in the 19th century.  The parks name comes from the wind-powered water mill that occupied the sandy bluff in 1843. 


EQR started construction at Windmill Hill Park in May 2017 and is scheduled to be completed by spring of 2018.  The project includes a living shoreline with stone sill, stone revetment and a planted slope.  The slope will contain tidal grasses, riparian buffer and native landscaping, that will encourage and support more diverse aquatic wildlife use at the park.  The park will feature several lawn areas, seating areas, a brick sidewalk, a stone dust walking trail, meadows, a pedestrian bridge, water access ramp, bike racks, water fountain, benches and lighting. 

Along with building the living shoreline, EQR will be upgrading the existing storm sewer outfall and installing a bioretention area where the project will remove 6.53 pounds of Phosphorous per year, exceeding the requirement of .99 lbs/year.  


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