Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

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TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway
Suite 449, Fairfax, Va 22035

Craig Carinci,
Director, Stormwater Planning

Headwaters of Popes Head Creek at Brecon Ridge Subdivision Stream Restoration Project (SD-000031-220) (PH9271/PH9272)

Project Update: April 29, 2021

Project Background

The Popes Head Creek Watershed Management Plan identifies this project for stream restoration and stabilization as PH9271 and PH9272. In September 2019, Stormwater Planning Division staff initiated the project design.

Project Description

Picture 1: Existing conditions
Existing conditions.
Picture 2: Existing conditions
Existing conditions.

The project will restore approximately 5,300 linear feet of Popes Head Creek including a short section of one tributary, stabilize stormwater outfalls, and re-establish the stream valley floodplain connection and riparian corridor. Over this reach, the stream is severely eroded, down cut, incised and overly widened. An unnamed tributary is part of this project. The tributary is unstable, incised, and a debris jam holds back significant sediment that, for the time being, prevents erosion from advancing further upstream.

Without the restoration project, a great potential exists that stream bed and bank instability will continue eroding and damaging privately-owned and homeowners’ association-owned property while continuing to further impair water quality in Popes Head Creek. The tributary debris jam shows signs of increasing instability moving toward failure. When this jam fails, the retained sediment will be discharged downstream further degrading the stream corridor.

The goal is to implement a sustainable project to protect property, health and safety while improving water quality. This will be accomplished by restoring the stream’s dimension, pattern, and profile to a form appropriate for current and future watershed hydrologic conditions. The project will also restore equilibrium to the channel and riparian corridor supporting effective water and sediment conveyance without excessive channel erosion and migration. The design will enhance the natural habitat supporting improved biodiversity and restoring channel and floodplain ability to naturally process excess nutrients and sediment. Protecting and preserving existing trees to the greatest extent possible is always a priority. The work will repurpose and use fallen and health-impaired trees including any removed trees and existing streambed material within the project reach.

The project is part of Fairfax County’s larger efforts to restore many of the county’s degraded streams while improving overall water quality in local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

The primary restoration objectives are:

  • Improve water quality by stabilizing the continuously eroding bed and banks
  • Return/improve floodplain connectivity supporting improved ecosystem processes
    • Increase water residence time on the floodplain
    • Reduce volume and force of water in the channel
    • Naturally process nutrients and sediment on the floodplain
    • Provide groundwater recharge for the local aquifer
  • Enhance riparian forest habitat by planting native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants
  • Restore the ecological function of the stream and the riparian zone to biogeochemically process phosphorous, nitrogen, and sediment
  • Restore and enhance the aquatic and riparian habitats
  • Coordinate closely with community stakeholders to support project goals and commitment to future efforts to help maintain success

Project Location

The project begins on the south side of Braddock Road approximately 725 linear feet east of the Bellmont Drive intersection extending approximately 5,300 linear feet south.

View or download the map.

Project Phase

Design is at the preliminary concept phase to allow community introduction.


Work on a more fully engineered concept (35-percent) plan is scheduled to begin in fall 2021.


Advancing the project through an iterative design process will take approximately 12 to 14 months. In addition to an initial introduction meeting, a meeting will be scheduled immediately prior to beginning construction. During the interim, ongoing low-impact site and ecological monitoring activities will continue.


Funding is approved for design. Construction funding is dependent upon future budget availability and allocations. Stormwater projects are funded through the county Stormwater Service District.


For more information, please email Project Manager, Stormwater Planning Division, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711.

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