Potomac Highlands Watershed School

WV Potomac Tributary Strategy: BMP Appendices

Excerpted with Permission from the WVPTS Draft – April 24, 2004

(BMP links here.)


Appendix 3. Urban & Mixed Open Best Management Practices

Best Management Practices used in the Urban and Mixed Open Implementation Strategy.

Urban BMP Category


Wet Ponds and Wetlands

Practices that have a combination of a permanent pool, extended detention or shallow wetland equivalent to the entire water quality storage volume. Practices that include significant shallow wetland areas to treat urban storm water but often may also incorporate small permanent pools and/or extended detention storage.

Dry Extended Detention Ponds

Dry extended detention ponds (a.k.a. dry ponds, extended detention basins, detention ponds, extended detention ponds) are basins whose outlets are designed to detain the stormwater runoff from a water quality "storm" for some minimum duration (e.g., 24 hours) which allow sediment particles and associated pollutants to settle out. Unlike wet ponds, dry extended detention ponds do not have a permanent pool. However, dry extended detention ponds are often designed with small pools at the inlet and outlet of the pond, and can also be used to provide flood control by including additional detention storage above the extended detention level.

Infiltration Practices

Infiltration practices are used to capture and temporarily store the water quality volume before allowing it to infiltrate into the soil, promoting pollutant treatment and groundwater recharge.

Filtering Practices

Practices like swales (vegetated open channels that reduce stormwater runoff and promote infiltration), rain gardens, and sand or organic matter filters that capture and temporarily store water , promoting pollutant treatment and groundwater recharge.

Erosion and Sediment Control

Erosion and sediment control practices such as silt fences, slope drains, and vegetation that protect water resources from sediment pollution and increases in runoff associated with land development activities. By retaining soil on-site, sediment and attached nutrients are prevented from leaving disturbed areas and polluting streams.

Natural Area Conservation

Maintaining areas such as forests, grasslands and meadows that encourage stormwater infiltration.

Stream Restoration

Restoring natural stream hydrology, morphology, and the riparian landscape.

Septic Connections/Hookups

Septic connections/hookups represent the replacement of traditional septic systems with connection to and treatment at wastewater treatment plants.

Septic Denitrification

Septic denitrification systems provide enhanced nutrient removal over traditional septic systems by adding advanced treatment technology.

Septic Tank Pumping

Septic systems achieve nutrient reductions through several types of management practices, including frequent maintenance and pumping. On average, septic tanks need to be pumped once every three to five years to maintain effectiveness. The pumping of septic tanks is one of several measures that can be implemented to protect soil absorption systems from failure. When septic tanks are pumped and sewage removed, the septic system’s capacity to remove settable and floatable solids from wastewater is increased.

Urban and Mixed Open Nutrient Management

Nutrient management involves the reduction of fertilizer applications to grass lawns and other areas. The implementation of nutrient management is based on public education and awareness, targeting suburban residences and businesses, with emphasis on reducing excessive fertilizer use. Nutrient management plans recommend appropriate rates of nutrient application, timing of applications, and placement of nutrients to address plant nutrient needs while minimizing nutrient export to the environment.

Riparian Forest Buffers

Converting developed lands to linear wooded areas along rivers and streams to help filter nutrients, sediments, and other pollutants from runoff as well as remove nutrients from groundwater. Riparian buffers also help to maintain the integrity of stream channels; and supply food, cover, and thermal protection to fish and other wildlife.

Tree Planting

Planting trees on lands not adjacent to waterways and converting the land use from urban and mixed open to forest. If the trees are planted as part of the urban landscape, with no

intention to covert the area to forest, then this does not count as urban tree planting.


Appendix 5. Agricultural Best Management Practices

Best Management Practices used in the Agricultural Implementation Strategy.

Agricultural BMP


Conservation Tillage

Planting and growing crops with minimal disturbance of the surface soil. Includes no-till and minimum till farming.

Riparian Forest Buffers

Linear wooded areas along rivers, stream and shorelines that help filter nutrients, sediments and other pollutants from runoff as well as remove nutrients from groundwater. 35 foot width minimum

Riparian Grass Buffers

Linear strips of grass or other non-woody vegetation maintained along rivers, stream and shorelines that help filter nutrients, sediment and other pollutant from runoff. 35 feet minimum width.

Wetland Restoration

Re-establish the natural hydraulic condition in a field that existed prior to the installation of subsurface or surface drainage. Any wetland classification including forested, scrub-shrub or emergent marsh

Land Retirement

Takes marginal and highly erosive cropland out of production by planting permanent vegetative cover such as shrubs, grasses, and/or trees.

Tree Planting

Growing trees and converting the land use from agricultural to forest, targeting lands that are highly erodible or identified as critical resource areas. Does not include forested riparian buffers.

Nutrient Management Plan

A comprehensive plan that describes the optimum use of nutrients to minimize nutrient loss while maintaining yield

Cereal Cover Crops

Planting and growing of cereal crops (non-harvested) with minimal disturbance of the surface soil; reduces erosion and the leaching of nutrients to groundwater, captures nitrogen in plant tissues.

Commodity Cover Crops

Modify normal small grain production practices by eliminating fall and winter fertilization so that crops function similarly to cereal cover crops; may be harvested for grain, hay or silage; may receive nutrient applications after March 1; captures nitrogen in plant tissues.

Conservation Plans

A combination of agronomic, management and engineered practices that protect and improve soil productivity and water quality; the plan must meet agency technical standards.

Animal Waste Management Systems

Practices designed for proper handling, storage, and utilization of wastes generated from confined animal operations and include a means of collecting, scraping or washing wastes and contaminated runoff from confinement areas into appropriate waste storage structures.

Phytase Feed Additives

This enzyme is added to reduce phosphorus needs in poultry feeds. A reduction of 30% in resulting manure phosphorus may be possible.

Yield Reserve

A reduction in nitrogen applied to cropland below the nutrient management recommendation, currently defined at 15% in nitrogen. An incentive or crop insurance is used to cover the risk of yield loss.

Alternative Uses Of Manure/Manure Transport

Either transporting excess manure outside of the Chesapeake Bay watershed or finding an alternative use – such as new fuel technologies.

Stream Protection With Fencing With Off Stream Watering

Both alternative watering and installation of fencing that involves narrow strips of land along streams to exclude livestock. The fenced areas may be planted with trees or grass, but are typically not wide enough to provide the benefits of buffers.

Off Stream Watering In Pasture Without Fencing

The use of alternative drinking water troughs or tanks away from streams; may also include options to provide shade for livestock away from streams.

Off Stream Watering With Stream Fencing And Rotational Grazing

Combines stream fencing and alternative watering with cross fencing systems to create paddocks to enable rapid grazing of small areas in sequence; beneficial in removing animals from stream areas, but increases animal stocking rate and manure concentration per acre - may adversely impact the quality of surface water runoff.


BMP Links 

A West Virginia success story!   Using Best Management Practices and community support to clean up the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac .  

Riparian Buffers: What they are and how they work.    This excellent discussion comes from the good folks at North Carolina State University.

Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Effects on Water Quality.  Author: Julia C. Klapproth, Faculty Assistant-Natural Resources, Maryland Cooperative Extension; James E. Johnson, Extension Forestry Specialist, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech.

Installing buffers to protect water supplies.  In order to protect New York City's water supply, the City, New York State and the USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) are picking up all the costs necessary to implement a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in the Catskill and Delaware watersheds of the New York City drinking water supply system.  These watersheds furnish most of the 1.34 billion gallons of water used daily by the New York City system, which serves 9 million city and regional residents.  By installing buffers and protecting erodeable land throughout the Catskill/ Delaware watersheds, they hope to avoid construction of a water filtration plant costing an estimated $6 billion. The project will also provide valuable habitat for endangered Wildlife and native cold water fish.    Click here and here to learn more.   

National Conservation Practice Standards.  This is where you go to learn about all of the BMPs that are currently accepted by the US Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service.