The Prince William County Department of Public Works is just beginning a nearly one-mile project along a section of Powell’s Creek, just off Cardinal Drive and Merrily Way, behind the Montclair and Four Seasons subdivisions.
The two-year project will establish wetlands along the boundaries of Powell’s Creek to act as buffers against flooding. The current project on Powell’s Creek will also improve degraded bank conditions that threaten a sanitary sewer main transmission line.
The project is the largest Public Works has taken on, and entails clearing along the creek, temporarily rerouting Powell’s Creek, removing existing sediment, channel relocation to restore the streambed, stream bank reinforcement and replanting with native plants and trees to finish the project and connect Powell’s Creek with its wetland system.
All the improvements will create a meandering creek with riffles, where water runs swiftly over rocks to introduce oxygen into the water, along with pools to bring equilibrium to the stream to control sediment. Once established, the new trees and native plants stabilize the stream bank at the same time they provide shade and reduce algal growth. “Even though you’re impacting the wetlands temporarily, they’re going to be improved and have more hydrology because we’re reconnecting to the flood plain,” Dombrowski said. “What we’re trying to do is restore it to what it was, which is wetland forest. We’re changing it to be what it was, the way nature intended it to be.”
Once fully established, the riparian zone, or areas surrounding the stream, will also take up nutrients before the nutrients can enter Powell’s Creek, which runs to the Potomac River, which in turn, flows to the Chesapeake Bay.
Federal regulations require that localities that are in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, such as Prince William County, limit the daily amount of sediment, nutrients and other pollution going into their waterways. Deforestation decades ago, and ongoing development, continue to impact streams and make restoration necessary.