Rapid Data Collection for Accotink Stream Stability Assessment and Restoration Prioritization

The headwaters of Accotink Creek originate within the City of Fairfax (City). Accotink Creek is located within the Potomac River watershed, and its combined major tributaries account for approximately ten miles of stream throughout the City.

As the City approaches the 3rd Phase of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, there is an increased need for project implementation to meet Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Total Suspended Solids – Pollutant of Concern (POC) – reduction requirements.  Due to the large presence of streams throughout the City, stream restoration projects are the most efficient and cost-effective projects to meet POC reduction requirements. The City and Kimley-Horn have collaborated to create a GIS-based solution leveraging advanced capabilities in Esri’s Survey123. The solution allows multiple types of data to be collected simultaneously for rapid assessment of stream geometry and attribute data to automatically prioritize reaches of Accotink Creek in terms of their restoration potential.

Inputs for this platform not only focus on stream health characteristics, but also include a focus on potential project opportunities and constraints that can be visually observed in the field.  Rapid assessment categories range from stream bank erosion and stream bank cover to available floodplain area, previous restoration efforts, and presence of utilities, among several other categories. These attributes have been assigned individual weighted values that are used to calculate an overall composite score for each assessed reach that will be the basis for the final project prioritization.

Compared to traditional “pen-and-paper” data collection methods, this platform creates a dynamic, digital, and georeferenced database that is updated in real time. This seamless field-to-desktop database will expedite the restoration project selection process, enable the coordination of financing through the City’s Capital Improvement Plan, and ensure that the 3rd Phase of the City’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL goals are met in the most cost and time-effective way possible.