Thursday, February 22, 2007

From the 2003 DDOE/Watershed Protection Division's Pope Branch Watershed Implementation Plan


Located in southeast Washington, DC, Pope Branch is a 1.6-mile first-order tributary of the Anacostia River. The entire stream lies within DC city boundaries, originating downstream of Fort Davis Drive and flowing in a northwesterly direction towards the Anacostia. A portion of this stream (1,700 linear feet or 20%) is piped beginning at the CSX railroad and ending at an outlet to the Anacostia (COG, 2003). The Pope Branch subwatershed encompasses a 248.5-acre area and is roughly bounded by Alabama Avenue to the east, Pennsylvania Avenue to the south, and Massachusetts Avenue to the north.

The heavily urbanized character of the Pope Branch watershed, and its consequent imperviousness, produce conditions for flashy and intense stream channel flows, even during the most moderate of storm events. The resulting hydrologic alterations to natural stream equilibrium have deteriorated the water quality of Pope Branch, and degraded natural habitat. As watershed analysis has revealed, the erosion of its stream banks during storm events is the primary cause of sedimentation within Pope Branch.

There are several other current threats to both water quality and the health of the riparian buffer in the Pope Branch watershed. These include nonpoint source water pollution from stormwater runoff, a failing sewer line that traverses segments of Pope Branch, and lack of riparian cover along portions of the stream. As a result of this, Pope Branch does not support swimmable or secondary contact recreation uses. The potential for sewage line leaks into Pope Branch has produced a human health risk as well. In addition to the degraded water quality, the lower part of Pope Branch is piped, serving as a barrier to fish passage upstream and preventing potential recreational and aesthetic enjoyment of the riparian habitat.
In order to achieve the vision of restoring the habitat, water quality and aesthetics of Pope Branch, three interconnected primary activities are envisioned for the Pope Branch watershed: Stormwater Runoff Reduction, Targeted Outreach and Development of Community Watershed Stewards, and Stream Restoration.

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