News Flash

Chesterfield On Point

Posted on: February 18, 2022

Local development regulations protect environment in Upper Swift Creek Watershed

Swift Creek Reservoir

Swift Creek ReservoirSwift Creek Reservoir supplies about 20% of Chesterfield's drinking water 

In 1997, the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors adopted a set of stringent regulations for land development northwest of the Swift Creek Reservoir to control stormwater runoff and erosion, limit pollution and preserve one of the county’s drinking water sources.

Despite the construction of thousands of homes in the Upper Swift Creek watershed over the past 25 years, Chesterfield’s annual water quality monitoring reports indicate the ordinance has been effective.

“Water quality in the reservoir is still good, even with the housing boom in the mid-2000s and the most recent housing boom we’ve had in that part of the county,” said Scott Smedley, director of the Environmental Engineering Department, in a January presentation to the Chesterfield Planning Commission. “There’s a very healthy ecosystem in the reservoir, so the measures that were put into place many years ago are working.”

As the county’s Economic Development Authority pursues rezoning of the Upper Magnolia Green West property for use as a technology village, protecting the environment remains a top priority – both in the area immediately around the site and the entire watershed, which encompasses 62 square miles and drains into Swift Creek Reservoir. 

Constructed in 1965, the 1,700-acre reservoir contains approximately 5.2 billion gallons of water. The Addison-Evans water treatment facility has a permitted capacity of 12 million gallons per day, and currently supplies about 20% of Chesterfield’s drinking water.

Should the Board of Supervisors approve the EDA’s request to develop the 1,700-acre Upper Magnolia West site for general industrial (I-2) uses, the EDA will have to comply with strict local stormwater management requirements.

Stormwater runoff is created when rain falls on roads, driveways, parking lots, rooftops and other impervious surfaces that do not allow water to soak into the ground.

Under Chesterfield’s Upper Swift Creek Watershed ordinance, the threshold for phosphorous in a commercial project’s post-development runoff is among the lowest of any Virginia jurisdiction.

That standard is met through enhanced erosion and sediment control measures -- including the use of super silt fence, stormwater management basins that are 25% larger than normal and ground cover that decreases runoff in construction areas. 

As part of a separate, $27 million project, Chesterfield also is installing upgraded drainage culverts in a flood-prone section of Otterdale Road that can accommodate rainfall from a 100-year storm.  

“We’re making sure that whatever gets built on this [Upper Magnolia Green] site is not going to adversely impact downstream properties” through increased runoff, Smedley said.

To mitigate impacts on adjacent property owners, the EDA has committed to maintain a 750-foot buffer between homes located along Moseley Road and any buildings constructed in Upper Magnolia Green West, as well as a minimum 200-foot buffer along the perimeter of the entire 1,700-acre technology village.

“One of the benefits of this property is it’s heavily wooded, so we intend to use the existing forested vegetation to become that buffer area,” said Stephen Donohoe, assistant director of the county’s Planning Department, noting the EDA’s proffered buffers exceed local ordinance requirements “by quite a bit.”

“We want to insulate the site from the surrounding properties as best we can,” he added.

Andrew Gillies, director of Chesterfield Planning, called it a “green moat we’re building around this whole site.”

In addition to preserving a significant amount of green space and tree canopy, both of which inhibit stormwater runoff, the EDA’s rezoning request for Upper Magnolia Green West includes post-development performance standards for noise, light and odor. 

As another layer of environmental protection, Chesterfield’s Department of Utilities also maintains a robust pretreatment program for wastewater generated by industrial sites.

All buildings constructed in the Upper Magnolia Green West technology village would be required to connect to the public water and wastewater system. Industrial users that discharge non-domestic wastewater into the public system would need to comply with a locally issued Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit, which contains specific sampling and reporting requirements to the Department of Utilities’ Pretreatment Section.  

Any contaminants in the wastewater would have to be removed through a pretreatment process prior to discharging into the county’s wastewater system.  The pretreatment program also encourages the practice of pollution prevention to reduce, recycle and improve the wastewater being discharged.    

Utilities staff conducts regular wastewater sampling and inspections of industrial operations to ensure their effluent has no pollutants that could interfere with the county’s wastewater treatment process, and prevent the introduction of pollutants that could pass through the treatment plant without being adequately treated. 

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