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.

Breewood Maps, Posters and video

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.   



RainScapes Neighborhood: Breewood Manor

Breewood Manor was selected to be a RainScapes Neighborhood as part of the overall County effort to restore environmental conditions in the Breewood tributary to Sligo Creek. This neighborhood is receiving a higher level of effort and scrutiny as part of the MS4 permit requirements for restoration and monitoring. The combined efforts by the County on public land and the efforts of residents on private land are intended to restore the tributary to a healthier state and to reduce the volume of runoff and improve the quality of drainage from this neighborhood.

The residential property in the Breewood Manor neighborhood accounts for 46% of the developed area of the sub-watershed. The participation of private property owners in the neighborhood to reduce runoff that would otherwise flow from the private property to the stormdrain systems is an important part of the success of Breewood stream restoration efforts. The RainScapes program allows residents to become part of this restoration success by improving the "watershed friendly" function of yards with a new focus on sustainable landscaping practices. 


Retrofitting a Neighborhood

In many older communities, a combined retrofit effort, focusing on both public land and private property will maximize stormwater treatment potential. The stormwater retrofit approach in Breewood uses a combination of green infrastructure including rain gardens and rain barrels, Green Streets bioswales, a stormwater bioretention pond, and stream restoration.

The combined impact of retrofitting Green Streets and RainScapes projects is to reduce the volume of runoff and improve the quality of drainage from this neighborhood into Sligo Creek, while actively engaging residents in watershed restoration efforts. 


Breewood RainScapes Neighborhood Goal

Our goal in Breewood is to encourage between 10% to 30% of Neighborhood residents to participate, or between 5 and 16 homes. We are at a 5% participation level now, consisting of demonstration projects. (See map below)

Neighborhood Opportunities and Constraints

Yards in the neighborhood that drain to the Breewood tributary haev been evaluated for general RainScapes project suitability and potential. This evaluation looked at potential front yard space and drainage patterns from roof-tops and driveways. The evaluation was conducted from the public ROW - we did not need to enter private property for this phase. Of the 54 lots included in the assessment, 26 homes, or 48% have good potential for on-lot RainScapes projects. There are many opportunities for downspout disconnection - keeping roof runoff from running down the street by directing gutter downspouts into the yard rather than driveway. 


Breewood Neighborhood Project Map

The following map shows all the current and completed projects that fall within the Breewood Neighborhood boundary. (Please click the double arrow at the top of the map to see the legend)


RainScapes Neighborhood Process in Breewood Manor

The outreach effort in the neighborhood has included public meetings, field walks, telephone calls, and yard signs to inform residents about the program and solicit participation among neighborhood residents. Demonstration project installations began Spring 2014. 

A second round of RainScapes Outreach is anticipated to occur in the Winter of 2016, with a focus on County provided sire assessments and projects being installed using the  RainScapes Rewards Rebates approach. 


Site Assessment and Design

Residents who choose to participate in the RainScapes program are scheduled for a site assessment field visit on their property. At this field meeting, DEP staff or our contractor meet with homeowners to assess the nature of storm water drainage on and around the property, and where and how it could be treated on-site using a RainScapes project. Landscaping goals and preferences of the owners are also discussed at that time. Based on the outcome of the site assessment, recommendations are provided for a range of RainScapes projects that are eligible for rebate funding. 

The initial round of projects that are in the neighborhood were provided by the County and were intended to provide a demonstration in the community so that property owners could have close-by examples of RainScapes at work. At this time, we are able to offer site assessments for interested property owners in this neighborhood. Residents are encouraged to find out more about how to help the Breewood community and Sligo Creek watershed stormwater management effort in partnership with the RainScapes program. Please visit the RainScapes Rewards Website for information on the variety of RainScapes projects possible on private property. 


How Can I Participate in RainScapes Neighborhoods in Breewood Manor?

One: Schedule a Site Assessment

If you are interested in scheduling a RainScapes Site Assessment for your property, contact DEP at or 240-777-7702 and indicate you are in the Breewood RainScapes Neighborhood. Leave your name, address and contact information and we will place you on our waiting list for when site assessments resume in the Winter of 2016. 

Two: Add YOUR Runoff Reduction to the Map

If you have already taken steps to "RainScape" your property and reduce your rainfall runoff footprint - please let us know! You may be eligible for the Water Quality Protection Charge Credit Program , so please check the link to find out!



RainScapes Helpdesk