Our Best Urban BMP in the Bay Awards (BUBBAs) are designed to recognize innovators in the field who are using new and creative techniques to treat runoff and protect streams. But these projects come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes making it tricky to compare small, homeowner and community-led projects to those designed and built by comparatively wealthy counties and cities.

Enter: The Small But Mighty Award! This year, our jurors selected three nominees from across all of our categories to compete for a second “grand prize” focused on recognizing programs and projects implemented on a small budget. These projects were cost-effective and impactful and can serve as inspiration for small communities looking to improve their stormwater management.

Check out our nominees for 2021, and then cast a vote for your favorite!

Small But Mighty Nominees

Water Wonders

Project Team:

Nancy Lilly and Lilly Meighan — Lynchburg Water Resources

Due to COVID-19, typical education and outreach strategies were not safe.  As a solution to continue to raise awareness during this time, the Lynchburg Water Resources (LWR) education and outreach staff began filming a series of videos entitled “Water Wonders”. The lighthearted, upbeat videos highlight the work of LWR while also showing the plants and wildlife that benefit from clean water to demonstrate the importance of LWR’s work in the natural and built world.  The campaign also featured special events that would have otherwise had an in-person education and outreach event such as Earth Day, Arbor Day, and Drinking Water Week. 

The campaigns videos include activities and individual/household actions that families can complete at home or in their neighborhoods to help protect and conserve our water resources.  The virtual format was promoted on social media sites (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) on #WaterWondersWednesday.  Additionally, special episodes have been featured on local news (WDBJ and WSET) and the campaign has continued to increase the reach as the team progressed through the project. The project team has tracked and documented the increased awareness as a direct result of the campaign, through video comments and messages sent to LWR after videos were published, in addition to increases in digital engagement metrics.

Penrose Green Street Retrofit

Project Team:

Arlington County Neighborhood Conservation Team

Arlington County Stormwater Team

Sagres Construction, Corp.

The Penrose Green Street Retrofit project was initiated by the Penrose community as part of Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation (NC) program, in which communities can apply for funding for projects. The NC program is designed to empower residents to improve their neighborhoods. The Penrose community developed a conservation plan, prioritized potential projects and submitted their request, which was ultimately approved by the Arlington County Board

To improve walkability, the slip lane was removed and converted to a green space. Two heavily planted bioretention cells were installed to capture and absorb runoff, with walking access through the middle. High visibility crosswalks, corner curb extensions and new ADA compliant ramps improved pedestrian safety. The impact of the project included:

  • More than 4,000 square feet of pavement were removed and converted to green space.
  • The two bioretention cells capture runoff from 12,197 square feet of impervious area, with a total drainage area of 29,185 square feet
  • The green space and bioretention were heavily planted with native plants and trees, providing year-round interest and habitat for birds and pollinators.

Overall, by removing excess pavement and replacing it with a community-initiated green space that incorporates significant stormwater benefits, this project created a highly visible and valuable model that can be reproduced in other locations in Arlington County.

Wild at Heart in Accotink Creek Watershed

Project Team:

Deco Footprint, LLC

Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District

Wild Planet Green, LLC

HWS Hardscape and Waterseal Solutions LLC

This project received an honorable mention for it’s ability to address an extremely common point of frustration for residential homeowners: dealing with runoff that didn’t originate on their property. The beautiful design uses a dry well to address their street runoff concerns, combined with a rain garden to disconnect and redirect their impervious roof runoff from the large wet area that pooled in their front yard. A stone retaining wall was built to create a flatter yard for the family to run around and play outside. Locating the proposed rain garden next to the stone wall solved the dual problem of pushing infiltrating water a safe distance from the house foundation while creating important family fun and play space.