Virginia’s Capitol Square is “going green” by making some changes to how stormwater runoff is managed on the Capitol grounds, adjacent streets and nearby alleys. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has partnered with the Department of General Services (DGS), the City of Richmond, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to implement this project funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Stormwater runoff is water that flows over the land and into rivers and streams during and after rainfall or when snow melts. Stormwater runoff can also be channeled into natural or man-made conveyance systems, like sewers. Unmanaged stormwater can cause erosion and flooding. It can also carry excess nutrients, sediment and other contaminants into our waters. Properly managed stormwater protects land from erosion and flooding, helps to keep pollutants out of drinking water and streams, and ensures our general health, safety and welfare.

The “Greening Virginia’s Capitol” project will reduce polluted stormwater runoff flowing into Richmond’s sewer system by 64 percent, and will reduce the amount of phosphorus in that runoff by 69 percent and nitrogen by 70 percent. Nitrogen and phosphorus are two the biggest sources of pollution to our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

Several low impact development practices have been selected to be installed that will reduce the amount of impervious surface on Capitol Square. Impervious surfaces are those that don’t allow water to filter through the ground before it reaches streams or ground water. The practices chosen for Capitol Square include a rain garden, porous brick pavers, green streets and rainwater harvesting. Additionally, an existing underground tank that was installed to collect stormwater runoff will be modified to redirect stormwater into the irrigation system on the Capitol grounds. This stormwater will then be used to water the grass and plants during the spring and summer months, reducing the demand on the public water supply.

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