Hopewell has many manufacturing and industrial areas, resulting in huge expanses of impervious surfaces that speed polluted runoff to the nearby Appomattox and James Rivers. Photo by Liz Ronston/CBF Staff
Hopewell Restoration Project
Located near Virginia's capitol city of Richmond, the City of Hopewell sits on 11 square miles at the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers. The city developed into an industrial hub in the early 1900s, with many manufacturing giants building their factories in Hopewell, including Dupont, Honeywell, Evonik Industries, Smurfit-Stone, and Hercules. As a result, the city has many commercial corridors that were constructed prior to requirements for stormwater management, resulting in large expanses of impervious surfaces. Pollution due to decades of commercial use and economic disinvestment has reduced the environmental and aesthetic benefits local waterways could provide for residents.
CBF's Hopewell Restoration Project will add important green infrastructure practices to Hopewell's environs that will allow rainwater to slow down and sink in to the ground, helping to mitigate routine flooding of areas within this aging community, while creating additional green space for its more than 23,000 diverse residents to enjoy. It will also help build awareness of these practices in the community, creating support for future green stormwater solutions.
Pollution loads from urban and suburban stormwater remain high, even as localities work to implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Better stormwater management is an increasingly necessary—but admittedly expensive—proposition for local governments. As impervious surfaces channel large quantities of rainwater into streams at high velocity, the flow scours stream banks, destabilizes stream contours, and alters depths. It muddies drinking water sources, raises stream temperatures, and also carries bacteria, making the treatment and use of such water more expensive. Stormwater runoff washes eroded soil and pollutants from city streets and land, blocking sunlight from reaching underwater grasses important to aquatic animal habitat. Nitrogen and phosphorus in the runoff drive excessive plankton blooms that contribute to dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay. These realities impact communities' health, food supply, economy, and way of life.
In addition to damaging environmental consequences, stormwater runoff can cause significant health and even economic problems for Hopewell citizens due to bacteria pollution. The Appomattox River was initially placed on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's Impaired Waters Report in 1996 and the entire watershed has been on the report since. The Virginia Department of Health has also placed the Appomattox River in Hopewell on its fish consumption advisory list for 22 species of fish because of PCB and Kepone contaminants. In addition, urban areas such as Hopewell, which feature many hard paved surfaces, can face an increased flooding risk as runoff cannot easily sink into the ground. This can cause repeated and costly damage to homes and businesses.
Stormwater from impervious surfaces is one of the city's biggest water pollution issues. Unfortunately, 19.5 percent of Hopewell residents live in poverty. Because of this level of poverty, it is critical that stormwater management techniques necessary for this urban area to meet its water quality goals are accessible, easy to install, and affordable.
Project Activities: Community Engagement
- CBF will work with our partners at Virginia State University, an Historically Black College and University, to offer "Feeding the Soil, Feeding the Soul" workshops to engage African-American faith institutions on urban gardening and ways to reduce runoff.
- To help educate local elected officials and other community leaders on the importance of stormwater management, CBF will host an educational boat trip along the James River and a paddle trip along the Appomattox River. Through these educational experiences, CBF hopes that Hopewell's leaders will take steps and make investments in managing stormwater pollution.
- Two educational boat trips will also be offered to Hopewell students, engaging our young citizens in exploring their local waterways while also seeing first-hand the impacts of land use on water quality.
- CBF will work with the City of Hopewell to insert educational inserts in customers' monthly utility bills. The inserts will describe simple things homeowners can do to improve water quality.
- CBF and project partners will also host four neighborhood walks, where community residents can join us to explore their local waterways. At the conclusion of each walk, a speaker will discuss issues of importance to the community.
- A tour of the Hopewell wastewater treatment plant will be offered to educate residents about the many sources of pollution to the Appomattox and James Rivers, as well as the Bay.
- CBF will also engage the community through hands-on restoration events, including invasive species removals, debris pickups, and plantings.
Project Activities: Reducing Pollution
- CBF will conduct personal site visits to faith-based institutions, schools, businesses, residents, and other property owners to determine locations to install five rain gardens and 45 rain barrels, practices that will prevent flooding and improve water quality.
- Hopewell's Public Works Department will install a bioretention basin and permeable pavers at a parking lot located near the City Marina as part of the city's larger Hopewell Marina Connectivity and Greenway Project. This Greenway Project connects the Appomattox River to more of the city via green spaces.
- CBF will work with the Hopewell's Department of Recreation and Parks to create two buffers at public sites and host volunteers to plant native trees and shrubs.
- The Department of Recreation and Parks will also help CBF install ten "Scoop the Poop" stations to encourage pet owners to properly dispose of pet waste. To accompany this effort, CBF will develop bilingual (English and Spanish) brochures on proper pet waste management and conduct outreach to veterinarian clinics and pet shops.
Project Activities: Increasing Tree Canopy
Increasing forested urban areas helps filter water runoff and slow soil erosion, while creating cooler temperatures and beautifying streetscapes. CBF will work with the Virginia Department of Forestry to conduct a GIS-based urban tree canopy assessment for Hopewell and host a roundtable discussion on ways to expand the city's tree canopy. Project partners will also assist residents in forming a community tree stewardship group to obtain funding and momentum to increase the city's tree canopy. We will also work with the city and Keep Hopewell Beautiful to attain a Tree City USA designation and identify sites to plant 100 additional trees to increase the city's canopy.
Project Funders and Partners
CBF is thankful to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for funding the Hopewell Restoration Project. We are also appreciative of our partners that are helping CBF meet the project deliverables, including the City of Hopewell, especially the Department of Public Works, the Hopewell Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, and the Department of Recreation and Parks; Friends of the Lower Appomattox; Hopewell Downtown Partnership; Kiwanis Club of Hopewell; Prince George Master Gardeners; Virginia Department of Forestry; and Virginia State University.