Northern Virginia Stream Restoration Bank

Fairfax County, Virginia
Owner: Reston Association

Why let a beautiful, restored stream go unexplored? See how WSSI & local organizations encourage adventure with the annual Reston Kids' Trout Fishing Day! Reston's streams - once eyesores with eroding banks and toppling trees - have been restored and are now a community retreat for fun and good ole fashioned family bonding.

Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI), managing member of Northern Virginia Stream Restoration, L.C., has partnered with the Reston Association (RA) to restore approximately 14 miles of degraded streams in Phase I of the NVSRB. WSSI has designed and permitted the entire 14 miles, and we have completed more than 11 miles since we began phased construction in February 2008.

In order to gain regulatory approval of the NVSRB, WSSI worked closely with federal and state agencies to develop a “currency” (Stream Credit Units or SCUs) for assessing stream impacts and required mitigation.  The resulting “Virginia Stream Impact Assessment Manual” (SIAM) developed by WSSI was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for use in the NVSRB and formed the basis for the “Unified Stream Methodology” (USM) developed by the COE and DEQ for use throughout Virginia.  

The streams are being restored through the use of Natural Channel Design (NCD) techniques that include raising the bed to reconnect higher storm flows with the floodplain.  Design flow rates were developed through assessment of various design protocols, including hydrologic modeling using HEC-HMS.  Hydraulic performance of the restoration designs were confirmed using HEC-RAS.

In order to gain public acceptance of the projects, WSSI employed a comprehensive public outreach campaign. WSSI staff has conducted over 50 community meetings and over 40 with local plan approval authorities (RA Design Review Board and RA Board).

Construction started in February 2008, with WSSI providing full time construction inspection and oversight.  Following construction, WSSI is responsible for 10 years of monitoring and maintenance activities to ensure successful restorations are achieved.  These activities include monitoring the dimension, pattern, and profile of the restored reaches, in-stream structures, riparian vegetation, and benthic macroinvertebrate community. Click here for more information about NVSRB projects under construction.


Reach 12 of Snakeden Branch - Reston, Virginia

Before restoration
Erosion of this urban stream's bed and banks exposed buried utility lines, damaged adjacent walking trails, and exposed tree roots, causing healthy trees to topple.

1.5 years after restoration construction
During restoration construction, the stream bed was raised to reconnect with the floodplain. Placement of rock structures directs flow away from channel banks and creates riffles & pools.


5 years after restoration construction
The stream ecosystem is healthy and the riparian vegetation is abundant and flourishing. The restored stream system is a community asset.


Citizen Science at NVSRB!

WSSI is pleased that NVSRB has generated community interest and learning as well. Students from South Lake High School partnered with WSSI and others to assess stream restoration effectiveness and develop a Citizen Science approach that can provide educational opportunities. Click here to see their March 2019 presentation.