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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.   


Stream Restoration

Along with projects to reduce and treat stormwater runoff flowing into the Breewood Tributary, the County has also completed a restoration project within the tributary itself.  The stream restoration project has stabilized 1,200 feet of stream channel from Sligo Creek Parkway upstream to the storm drain outfall located south of University Towers.


What are the Boundaries of the Stream Restoration Project?

The stream restoration project starts at the end of the rock lined section of the Fiesta Road Tributary. There was a five foot deep drop off or head cut in the stream channel which is where the restoration project begins.  A portion of the stream at the upstream end of the Fiesta Road Tributary is not included in the project as the stream channel in this area is stabilized with rock and not eroding.

The stream restoration ends at Sligo Creek Parkway near where the Breewood Tributary flows into Sligo Creek. 

Map of the Breewood Tributary, storm drains and stream restoration location.


How Will the Stream Restoration Project Help?

The stream restoration project will

  • stabilize the banks to prevent erosion,

  • add new trees and plants

  • reduce the amount of sediment entering Sligo Creek

  • improve water quality in both the Breewood Tributary and Sligo Creek

  • reconnect the stream to its floodplain

  • improve the ecological health of the Breewood Tributary and adjacent floodplain areas

The stream restoration project works in collaboration with the new stormwater management facilities being added in other areas of the Breewood watershed to capture and treat runoff before it enters the stream. New stormwater facilities have been installed along streets in the Breewood Manor Neighborhood and plans are currently in design for stormwater management facilities to capture and treat runoff from the University Towers Condominiums and the Northwood Presbyterian Church.   


Headcut of the Breewood Tributary
Breewood Tributary before restoration - headcut and channel erosion.


Breewood Tributary - Pre-restoration
Breewood Tributary before restoration - deep eroded stream channel  
Breewood Tributary (same location as photo on left) Post-Construction
Breewood Tributary after restoration - (same location as photo on left) 


Stream Restoration Schedule and Resources

Project Schedule

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Preliminary Assessment

December 2011

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Concept Design Plan

March 2012

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60% Design Plan

November 2012

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Public Meeting

November 2012
Sligo Middle School

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Final Design Plans

April 2014

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Completed May 2015




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