December 2, 2003
Good evening. My name is Mark Zetts and I live on Kirby Court in
Falls Church. I would like to thank the chairman for giving me the
opportunity to address the EQAC.
Burke’s Spring Branch is a tributary of Pimmit Run roughly
4100 feet in length that originates near Haycock Road, the boundary
of the 4 Mile Run and Pimmit Run watersheds. This stream and the
smaller tributary stream to the east are headwaters of Pimmit Run,
fed by several perennial, productive springs. Of the 180 acres drained
by Burke’s Spring Branch, approximately 56 acres are heavily
wooded and provide excellent filtering of storm runoff.
In the center of the Burke’s Spring Branch watershed is Haycock-Longfellow
Park, acquired by the Fairfax County Park Authority in 1963. It
comprises 24 acres of mature woods, a children’s amphitheater
and over ½ mile of paved and unpaved hiking trails along
its salient contours. Surrounded within easy walking distance by
14 communities consisting of 768 dwelling units, the Park provides
both passive and active recreation for nearly 2000 residents in
the local community.
The encroachment of development upon the Burke’s Spring Branch
watershed has slowly accumulated over a long period of time. The
number of housing units in the vicinity of the stream has grown
40% in the last 17 years. We are now facing three new developments
that threaten to destroy an additional 25 acres of wooded buffer.
These developments are the Winchester housing tract consisting of
109 dwelling units, the Chesterbrook Assisted Living Facility and
the addition of an 81-space parking lot at the Temple Rodef Shalom.
I believe the additional storm water runoff created by these new
development will exceed the carrying capacity of our streams and
culverts and will create a very precarious situation that will threaten
our downstream neighbors in Brooks Square subdivision and Foxhall
to the North.
The Brooks Square subdivision, in particular, is vulnerable to
severe flooding because of its location at the confluence of the
Burke’s Spring Branch with the smaller tributary stream to
the east. These two streams handle the storm water runoff from approximately
112 acres with a drop of 115 feet. During intense downpours, the
storm water rises very rapidly and flash flooding threatens the
two rows of townhomes adjacent to the stream. It is for this reason
that the Brooks Square HOA vigorously fights any new development
We had such a storm in mid-August of 2001 that resulted in severe
flooding along Pimmit Run. The flood water in the McLean Little
League Complex was over the fences in field 4, there was massive
damage to 20 homes and several automobiles were destroyed. Moreover,
according to Fairfax County officials, this storm wasn’t even
a 2-year storm event in this area of the county. In response to
this flooding, in the following month, the Fairfax County Board
of Supervisors authorized $240,000 for flood control along Pimmit
Run. Dranesville Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn opined that several
hundred thousand dollars more would be needed in the next budget
This flood occurred soon after the Temple Rodef Shalom completed
the expansion of its facility, which replaced some 2-acres of woods
with impervious surface. With the now increased storm runoff, the
downstream homes at the base of Kirby Court are subject to flooding
because the Temple relies of overland relief to handle floodwaters.
Although the overland relief was an existing condition, the new
development has exacerbated the problem. The Temple’s 54’
culvert pipe empties into a 27’ culvert pipe that runs under
Kirby Court, a pipe undersized by a factor of 4. Additionally, during
the construction of the parking lot, perennial springs were paved
over instead of being capped and piped to the existing stream. Because
of this, the Temple has chronic problems with the asphalt paving
and seeping water in the parking lot. Evidence of these spring waters
can now be seen at the Temple’s storm water outfall. The spring
water bubbles up from underneath the concrete foundation of the
54’ culvert pipe. In 1997 prior to construction, a neighbor
paid a visit to the engineering firm to warn them that there were
springs in the area but his warning was ignored. The springs in
this area have always been very productive and the stream that originates
from the Temple property has been dry only 4 times since 1968.
The situation is similar on the opposite side of Haycock-Longfellow
Park. Springs on the Frase property have been productive for two
hundred years however they do not meet the County’s standard
of perennially. The destruction of these springs and wooded buffers
will result in the perpetual loss of this Pimmit Run tributary.
Replacing 25 acres of wood with the equivalent of 260 parking spaces
will cause irreparable environmental damage to Burke’s Spring
Branch and further degrade the condition of Pimmit Run.
President, Kirby Court Homeowners Association