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Breewood Tributary Restoration


In 2009, Montgomery County selected the Breewood Tributary for watershed restoration to meet MS4 Permit requirements .  A comprehensive biological and water quality study shows that past development had degraded the tributary.  Development dating back to the 1950's did not include stormwater management practices commonly used today.   Over the years, the uncontrolled storm flows have resulted in erosion, pollution and poor water quality and wildlife habitat.

Montgomery County, in partnership with the community, has launched a multi-year restoration initiative to implement a series of projects to reverse the damage to the stream and improve water quality.  



Where is the Breewood Tributary?

The Breewood Tributary is located in the southeastern portion of the County near Wheaton.  It flows into Sligo Creek which is a tributary of the Anacostia River.  The Breewood Tributary drains 63 acres of highly developed urban area.  Most of the area is single family homes, but there are also apartment buildings, town houses, schools, etc.


Breewood watershed map



What Environmental Problems Exist at the Breewood Tributary?

The Breewood Tributary receives the most of its flow from four storm drains that convey stormwater runoff from University Boulevard, Breewood Road, Tenbrook Drive and the surrounding areas. Much of the runoff from these storm drains has no stormwater management, except for the outfall that drains from Northwood High School.

Because of this, Breewood has:

  • eroding stream banks;
  • exposed sewer lines;
  • a large amount of untreated impervious area;
  • land uses associated with fertilizer and pesticide use; and
  • fish blockages.


Outflow from a storm drain near University Boulevard
An outfall from University Boulevard that flows into the Breewood Tributary

Consequently, the tributary experiences frequent high flow rates during storms that continue to erode the stream channel resulting in high amounts of sediment washing out of the Breewood Tributary and impacting stream condition downstream in Sligo Creek.   


What is the County Doing in the Breewood Tributary?

To fix the problems in the Breewood tributary, the County has implemented a variety of restoration techniques in partnership with residents living in the watershed. The goal of this effort is to restore the Breewood tributary to the “maximum extent practicable” – to make the stream as healthy as possible and help improve stream conditions in Sligo Creek.    

The following restoration techniques are being used:

  • Stream restoration:  Completed in May 2015, the stream channel was reconstructed to reduce erosion and improve habitat for aquatic life.  Additionally, trees, shrubs and meadow grasses were planted along the Breewood Tributary to further improve environmental conditions.
  • Breewood Manor Neighborhood Green Streets:  Completed in October 2014, vegetated best management practices were installed within the public right of way along streets and roads to improve and to reduce stormwater runoff flowing into the Breewood Tributary.
    • Bioretention: Structure at the end of Breewood Road that temporarily traps stormwater to slow it down and remove pollutants was completed in May 2017.
    • Roadside best management practices:  Structures that capture and treat stormwater from roads in the Breewood Manor Neighborhood were completed in October 2014.
  • Parking lot runoff best management practices:  Installing structures to capture and treat stormwater from parking lots at University Towers and Northwood Presbyterian Church.
  • RainScapes Neighborhood:  Working with property owners in the Breewood Manor Neighborhood to install small structures to control stormwater runoff from individual properties and promote groundwater recharge. RainScapes Projects have been installed on three residential properties to date.
  • Community Outreach: Getting local residents involved in reducing their impacts to the stream.
  • Monitoring: Measuring how conditions change in the stream as projects are implemented and how much improvement is made.


This effort is part of Montgomery County’s ongoing commitment to improving stream conditions throughout the County and to satisfy regulatory requirements in the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.   


University Towers Stormwater Retrofit

The University Towers is a 535 unit condominium complex located on a 12 acre parcel at the intersection of Arcola Avenue and University Boulevard in Wheaton. Approximately 5.3 acres of the property is impervious surface (parking lots, rooftop and sidewalks). Runoff from these impervious surfaces flows to a stormdrain system that exits the property to the south, under University Boulevard and into the Breewood Tributary. 

DEP has identified twelve areas on the University Towers property to install new stormwater management facilities (see map) which include rain gardens, bioretention facilities,  tree boxes and permeable pavers. These facilities, called Environmental Site Design (ESD) practices, will capture and treat stormwater runoff from small drainage areas or sections of parking lot.

Treatment of stormwater includes:

  1. filtering pollutants from stormwater

  2. reducing the overall volume of stormwater flowing from UT to the Breewood Tributary

  3. promoting the infiltration of water into underlying soils to recharge groundwater supplies which help maintain stream flow in the Breewood Tributary during dry periods.  

Environmental benefits that these facilities provide will help improve conditions in the Breewood Tributary, Sligo Creek and the Anacostia River.




Working with University Towers and Residents

DEP is coordinating closely with the condominium association and the residents at University Towers to locate new stormwater facilities such that they do not interfere with utilities or community use of the property. A summary of proposed retrofit facilities ( PDF, 1.43MB) was prepared and distributed to the condominium association and residents. The summary provides information about the facilities, where they are proposed and how they function to provide water quality treatment for stormwater runoff. 

In addition to the University Towers stormwater retrofit project, DEP is adding new stormwater management facilities in other areas of the Breewood Watershed to capture and treat runoff before it enters the tributary. New Stormwater practices have been installed along streets in the Breewood Manor Neighborhood and plans are currently in design for a new stormwater management facility to capture and treat runoff from the Northwood Presbyterian Church parking lot. Additionally, restoration of the Breewood Tributary was completed in May 2015 to repair actively eroding stream banks and reduce the export sediment into Sligo Creek.   


University Towers Retrofit Schedule and Resources


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Preliminary Assessment

August 2011

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Community Walk

January 20, 2012
University Towers

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Concept Design Plan

July 2012

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Public Meeting

November 2012
Sligo Middle School

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Condominium Association Meeting

March 2013
University Towers

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Community Walk

August 20, 2014
University Towers

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Condominium Association Meeting

July 2015
University Towers

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60% Design Plan

October 2015

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Final Design Plan

December 2016

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November 2017



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