Some Residents Concerned About SLHS Addition’s Impact on Erosion

South Lakes High School addition/Credit: FCPSThe Fairfax County Planning Commission on Thursday recommended for approval the 40,000-square-foot addition that will ease overcrowding at South Lakes High School.

The addition now moves on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for final approval at the Supervisors’ Oct. 20 meeting.

However, several residents of housing clusters directly across the street and downhill from the high school have concerns about how additional construction and square footage at the school will affect stormwater management. Residents say runoff his causing erosion, affecting the hillside behind their homes as well as Lake Audubon.

Reston 2020’s Terry Maynard wrote a recent letter to Hunter Mill School Board rep Pat Hynes outlining his concerns about stormwater standards at the addition site.

According to the Fairfax County Planning staff report on the addition, FCPS has received approval of a general permit through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which allows for the applicant’s proposal to be
grandfathered under the old stormwater management requirements prior to the Board’s adoption of the new stormwater ordinance in 2014.

Maynard lives on Wakerobin, located across the street and downhill from the school. Stormwater erosion from SLHS and Langston Hughes Middle School collects in basin to the east of the high school, then flows downhill towards Lake Audubon, Maynard said in his letter to Hynes.

Residents of Wakerobin and Cedar Cove met this week with representatives from Fairfax County and Reston Association to talk about the issue and plans to remedy it.

Said Maynard:

“Most of the stormwater from both SLHS and Langston Hughes Intermediate School collects in a basin to the east of the high school and then flows through a stormwater tunnel under South Lakes Drive. The resulting stream then plunges about 30′ in its 1,000′ flow to Lake Audubon.”

“During storms, the creek experiences massive erosion and the generation of huge quantities of silt that is spewed into Lake Audubon as the force of the flow cuts the stream wider and deeper. The decades-long problem has exposed both the County sewer in several places as well as several residents’ lateral connections.”

He said he is disappointed in the county’s plans to meet outdated stormwater regulations.

“So, in a Reston community that focuses on sustainability and environmental excellence, FCPS is proposing to meet old, much less stringent stormwater management requirements than is the current standard, presumably so it can save a few dollars,” wrote Maynard. “The proposed addition of some open joint parking surfaces (one of which is on the wrong side of the high school) and filterra structures is grossly inadequate to meet the additional flow caused by the addition, much less the current unacceptable stormwater management conditions.”

Maynard said each new addition to LHMS and SLHS over the years has made stormwater management worse for the neighborhoods. He said this summer’s sewer pipe leak in the area was a result of continued stress on the pipes on the erosion area.

Dave Thomas, representing Cedar Cove Cluster, has also expressed his concerns to RA and the county.

Graphic: Proposed addition for SLHS/Fairfax County

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