Explore RockvilleHow Do I?
Click to Home
Go To Search
PrintEmail
Rockville Connect
Project History & Background
The History

The Watts Branch watershed is an approximately 22-square-mile tributary to the Potomac River.  The confluence of the Potomac River and Watts Branch is of particular importance because it is just upstream of a major Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) drinking water intake for suburban Maryland.  The water quality of Watts Branch can have a significant impact on the level of treatment required at the drinking water plant.

Approximately 6.5 square miles of the Watts Branch watershed are located within the City of Rockville, including the vast majority of first and second order streams in the watershed. In general, the main stem of Watts Branch flows from north to south in the western portion of the City.

In 2001, the City completed the Watts Branch Watershed Study and Management Plan to establish a watershed protection plan that mitigates many of the impacts and stresses that exist on the ecosystem.

The project was recommended in the Watts Branch Watershed Study and Management Plan as a crucial component to the long-term health of the watershed. It was also recommended by the Watts Branch Partnership and approved by the Mayor and Council.

The Project

The purpose of the Upper Watts Branch Park Forest Preserve Environment Restoration Project is to enhance the Watts Branch Watershed through stream restoration, stormwater management, wetland enhancement, reforestation and protection of adjacent utilities.

Watts Branch is experiencing increased erosion, which is degrading the water quality of the stream and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.  This erosion undermines trees along stream banks and causes them to fall. Stream erosion is a main contributor to poor water quality because excessive sediment along with nutrients enters the water. This project will slow the stream erosion and improve the health of Watts Branch.

The project will take place within the Upper Watts Branch Forest Preserve Park and on City-owned parcels bounded between Gude Drive, Aster Boulevard, Nelson Street and Princeton Place. This park is one of many forest preserves throughout the city. View the project limits.

The goals of the stream restoration project are:

  • Minimize/control channel erosion (i.e., channel enlargement and down cutting)
  • Reduce pollutant loadings from the eroding stream banks
  • Enhance stream and forest habitats
  • Protect existing utilities in and near streams from erosion damage
  • Protect existing forest areas
  • Protect and enhance existing wetlands
  • Protect and maintain existing trail systems
  • Control invasive vegetation and establish native plants
  • Reforestation to meet forestry requirements and establish additional riparian buffer

The project was recommended in the Watts Branch Watershed Study and Management Plan as a crucial component to the long-term health of the watershed. It was also recommended by the Watts Branch Partnership and approved by the Mayor and Council.

Study and Design

The study and design of the Upper Watts Branch Forest Preserve stream was awarded by the Mayor and Council at their August 15, 2011 meeting and the project started in October 2011.

The consultant services include topographic survey, geomorphic survey, archaeological survey, public meetings and presentations, natural resource inventory, forest stand delineation, forest conservation plan (including invasive species control), four design phases (30 percent, 60 percent, 90 percent and final) and construction bid phase services.
 The City committed to designing and constructing repairs along three storm drain outfall channels located near Princeton Place, Aster Boulevard and Azalea Drive. The main stream channels were studied in order to make repair recommendations.

This project also considered new stormwater management (SWM) opportunities and evaluated the functioning and potential modifications of existing SWM facilities, which affect the Watts Branch Stream as it passes through the forest preserve, and stream restoration to address erosion in storm outflows and the Watts Branch stream. 

Charles P. Johnson and Associates (CPJ), the Environmental Restoration Design Services consultant, started the week of October 3, 2011 collecting data and measurements on the stream, trees, utilities and topography to establish stream cross sections. CPJ placed a total of 10 marking pins (rebar set into the ground) to collect, measure and monitor cross sections of the stream.