Stormwater Management

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Stormwater Management has become a particularly important issue for urban communities such as the City of Williamsburg. With the adoption of the Chesapeake Bay Act in 1989, the Commonwealth of Virginia began the first step of protecting urban streams and waterways from the erosion and pollutants created by urbanization. As part of the Chesapeake Bay Act, localities were allowed to develop regional stormwater management plans to address the complex issues of many small single-site facilities. This plan was developed to achieve the required water quality protection, but using fewer, more effective, and cost-efficient practices.

Maintenance of regional facilities is easier to monitor and achieve assuring that these facilities continue to function as designed. In 1996, the City of Williamsburg developed a Stormwater Management Plan (PDF) to achieve the stormwater quality goals of the City, although not required at the time for a locality of its size. This plan was updated due to revision and changes to the Virginia Stormwater Management Act and adopted by City Council in July 2014.

Plant More PlantsStormwater Terms

Let's be honest, stormwater professionals love to use confusing terms, big words, and funny acronyms. If you're not in the know, you could find yourself looking for a translator! Here are a few key terms that might help you speak their language.

Stormwater Runoff

The water from rain, melting snow, or other precipitation that "runs off" across the land instead of seeping into the ground. This runoff usually flows into the nearest stream, creek, river, lake, or ocean and is not treated in any way.

Pervious / Impervious Surfaces

A pervious surface is one that is permeable or allows water to pass through such as grass, sand, mulch, or even pavements which are specifically designed to allow water to infiltrate into the ground. Impervious surfaces (such as driveways, sidewalks, roads, or roofs) do not allow water to pass through. When it comes to managing stormwater, pervious surfaces are preferred because they limit runoff which can cause flooding and carry pollutants to our waterways.

Nonpoint Source Pollution

Stormwater runoff that cannot be directly traced to a specific origin but comes from a variety of areas such as farms, roads, construction sites, and yards. This is the opposite of point source pollution which comes directly from a single identifiable source.

Best Management Practice (BMP)

A device used to reduce pollution in stormwater runoff. Examples include ponds, grassed swales, ditches, and infiltration trenches. BMPs are often installed by developers, businesses, or municipalities and require maintenance to function efficiently.

BMPs may also be installed by individual homeowners (see Homeowner BMP Guide).

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)

The amount of pollutants a body of water can handle while still able to support beneficial uses (aquatic life, fishing, drinking water, recreation, etc.). The term is being used more often these days because of state and federal regulations requiring localities to reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment that goes into local waterways.

The City of Williamsburg is subject to TMDLs on four downstream bodies of water, one of which is the Chesapeake Bay. Action Plans have been developed to demonstrate how the City is limiting the discharge of key pollutants to these impaired waterways. Copies of the Action Plan reports may be reviewed at the Department of Public Works office during regular business hours or online.

(Information provided by


For more information and volunteer opportunities check out, which is a public awareness program of the 16 cities and counties of Hampton Roads administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) that encourages environmental stewardship among all residents here in southeastern Virginia. Members of include the:

  • Cities of:
    • Chesapeake
    • Franklin
    • Hampton
    • Newport News
    • Norfolk
    • Poquoson
    • Portsmouth
    • Suffolk
    • Virginia Beach
  • Counties of:
    • Gloucester
    • Isle of Wight
    • James City
    • Southampton
    • Surry and York
  • Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD)