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James City County/William & Mary Research and Education Connection


Date: August 24, 2004
Contact: Beth Davis, Environmental Education Coordinator

Phone: (757) 253-6859
Fax: (757) 253-6850



Working in partnership to research, educate and protect the environment in James City County


(James City County) August 25, 2004, With recent record rainfalls, stormwater management, watershed protection, and water quality have been brought to the forefront as environmental concerns. Which is why, during the past year, William and Mary's Sharpe Community Partnership Program has partnered with James City County to conduct several environmental projects within James City County regarding our watersheds.


Research projects thus far have included storm drain stenciling, stream monitoring, and water quality testing.



Storm Drain Stencil Project The "science section" of the Sharpe Environmental Science Program this year focused on mapping out storm drains and drainage systems at the neighborhood level. As part of a pilot program for James City County, they compared the runoff systems in various communities (ditches along side of the roads, underground pipes, retention ponds, etc.) so that the County and often the local neighborhood have a better sense of how storm water runoff is being handled locally. As a culmination of the yearlong project, they had a stenciling weekend during the end of April in the following neighborhoods of Longhill Station, Mulberry Place, Ewell Hall, and the Hamlet in order to alert residents about the environmental damage associated with allowing pollutants to enter storm drains. By labeling each drain as an input into the Chesapeake Bay watershed and distributing pamphlets to local residents, they raised community awareness and sensitivity about the local causes of water quality impairment.



Meghan Williamson, James Jackson, Marie Kurz, Rosalind O'Brien, Erin Morgan, Chris Lemon, Heather Heiser

Stream Monitoring Project The stream monitoring project focuses on the magnitude and nature of changes that urbanization has produced in stream flows in the James City County area and in turn evaluate the effectiveness of Best Management Practices (BMPs) (i.e., wet and dry ponds) in minimizing those changes. Stage monitoring stations have been installed in two detention ponds at two residential developments (Ironbound Village and Mulberry Place). The monitoring stations record the pond stage using a pressure transducer. Tests have also been performed on each pond to determine its outflow at particular stages. In addition, rain gauges have been set up near each site, for the purpose of monitoring the response of each detention pond to particular storm events. Throughout the upcoming months, measurements at each pond (i.e., stage vs. outflow) will be compared to the data predicted by a computer program called Hyrdraflow for the design of each pond. The stream monitoring project is projected to continue through the spring of 2005.



Heather Heiser, Chris Lemon,
Meghan Williamson

Water Quality Project James City County is presently experiencing rapid residential and commercial growth.  Urban sprawl places watersheds and associated streams and rivers under increased stress in terms of impaired quality from stormwater runoff.  To gather data on water quality within our watersheds, a study was conducted on the responses of one wet and two dry stormwater detention basins during storm events and their effectiveness as sediment and nutrient processors were rated for comparison with untreated stormwater runoff.  Water samples were collected before, during, and after three storm events of variable magnitude.  The samples were then analyzed for dissolved ammonium, total suspended sediment, and total dissolved sediment.  In conclusion, the dry basins discharged higher concentrations of sediment and dissolved nutrients than the wet basin during storm events.  The data supports a change in stormwater management practices in using wet basins rather than dry basins to maintain better water quality in developing watersheds.


James City County expects to continue our partnership with W&M this year with a study of the source and nature of fecal coliform pollution in Powhatan Creek.  Design of that project is under discussion.  For more information about the James City County/William & Mary Research and Education Connection, log on to and or contact Scott Thomas, Environmental Division Senior Engineer, at (757) 253-6639 and W&M Professor Timmons Roberts at (757) 221-2463.


The goal of the PRIDE watershed education program is to improve water quality in James City County by teaching residents about the importance of watershed protection while providing residents and neighborhoods with specific watershed restoration and protection tools.  For more information about PRIDE, log on to or contact Beth Davis, Environmental Education Coordinator, at (757) 253-6859.


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