The Upper Watts Branch project stood out for its comprehensive approach to stream restoration design, that included upland and floodplain conditions. The project also excelled for its community outreach and engagement throughout the project planning phases. To gain buy-in, the City created an interactive taskforce of adjacent neighbors, HOA leaders, City officials, and the contracted design team. This task force conducted 15 office and 4 field meetings to gain community support. The City set up a “road map” of milestones (e.g., concept development, 30% design) agreeing not to proceed to the next milestone without approval of all taskforce members, thus building trust. In turn, local citizens volunteered site history, identified particular concerns, and measured the “temperature” of public perception. By design completion, the project had 100% taskforce support.
Through a comprehensive site evaluation, the designers identified eight ecological restoration opportunities at the site, and demonstrated why these opportunities were preferential to other, upland alternatives. The resulting project reflected an integrated approach, first taking advantage of existing upstream extended detention stormwater management facilities to blunt flood surges. Second, four side swales contributing the largest percentage of eroded soil were stabilized; two of these stabilizations utilized regenerative conveyance to bolster stormwater treatment. The stream restoration approach raised groundwater levels, which enlarged existing fragmented wetlands. Lastly, streamwork was combined with reforestation of 2.5 acres of floodplain previously colonized by Japanese Stiltgrass and Tear Thumb.