Monday, May 10, 2021


Erin Hillert
Marketing & Communications Manager
James River Association
(608) 239-2644

Promoting Community Resilience in Petersburg

A Partnership Approach for Clean Water and Healthy Communities

Petersburg, Virginia – The James River Association (JRA) is excited to announce the Culpeper Avenue Storm Sewer Extension project in the Lakemont Community of the City of Petersburg, Virginia. It includes excavation and the installation of 175 feet of 42” Class IV reinforced concrete pipe and 50 feet of 18” Class III reinforced concrete pipe on Brunswick Street, between Culpeper Avenue and Slagle Avenue. A hydrodynamic separator structure will also be installed to separate debris, sediment, and hydrocarbons from stormwater runoff. JRA is working with a network of partners to take a holistic approach to building community resilience in the Lakemont Community including the City of Petersburg, Lakemont Neighborhood Watch Group, Timmons Group, and members of the Petersburg Healthy Opportunities Partnership (PHOP).

“Two local consequences of global climate change are rainier years and high intensity rain events that contribute to localized flooding in communities like Lakemont,” said Justin Doyle, JRA’s Community Conservation Manager. “Areas of Lakemont are prone to flooding after rain events and we are hopeful that this project will begin to alleviate flooding that occurs at the intersection of Brunswick Street and Slagle Avenue and promote community resilience.”

Leaning heavily on input from residents of the Lakemont Community, JRA, City of Petersburg, and Skeo Solutions created a Walkable Watershed concept plan in 2016. A Walkable Watershed approach integrates the flow of water and people into a cohesive strategy to improve the overall health of a community and the surrounding watershed. Recommendations include both stormwater infrastructure improvements to address flooding issues, as well as improving walkability by improving access to local trails, including the Petersburg National Battlefield which borders Lakemont. The first project was installed in 2018, which included a permeable walkway to support pedestrian access to Lakemont Elementary and the Battlefield, as well as capture stormwater runoff.

Following the Concept Plan, Timmons Group conducted a drainage study to identify solutions and improve flooding conditions. This study found that flooding is worsened by problems with the existing drainage system including sedimentation, inadequate capacity, and old failing infrastructure. Seven potential stormwater management improvement projects were identified and residents ranked the projects in order of priority, with the Culpeper Avenue Storm Sewer Extension ranked as a priority. Thanks to funding from the City of Petersburg and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund Small Watershed Grants Program made possible through funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this project is now a reality. Timmons Group created the plans for the Culpeper Avenue Storm Sewer Extension and Southern Construction Utilities Inc. was selected as the contractor for the project.

“This project is a long time coming,” said Mr. Robertnette Williams, a resident of the neighborhood and president of the Lakemont Neighborhood Watch Group. “It was developed to absorb water and resolve flooding along Slagle Avenue. We are hopeful that it won’t impact the area too much but will move the water underground as it should be.”

Petersburg Healthy Options Partnerships (PHOPs), a Centers for Disease Control & Prevention funded grant team working in Petersburg, is also working with the Lakemont Community. Though PHOPs primarily addresses increasing healthy food access, improving the local food system and promoting active transportation in the community, they have strongly supported this project. One PHOPs team member stated, “We recognize that in order to create a healthy community, the flooding issues in this neighborhood need to be addressed. Opportunities for physical activity and food systems initiatives are limited when there is repeated flooding in streets, yards & homes. We truly appreciate the work that the Lakemont community members, the City of Petersburg, James River Association & the Timmons Group have done to create and implement solutions to improve quality of life in the Lakemont Community.”

ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, the James River Association works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. The James River Association believes that “when you change the James, the James changes you”. With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, the James River Association is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit

The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government, or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources.