Lake Cook Stormwater Retrofit Project

What is polluted runoff?

Parts of the Chesapeake Bay watershed contain a high percentage of impervious cover – paved or other hard surfaces such as roofs and roadways that prevent rain water from being absorbed into the ground.  Instead, water runs along these surfaces, collecting trash and substances such as motor oil, lawn fertilizers, and pesticides.  This polluted stormwater flows into streams and rivers, where it threatens aquatic ecosystems and public health.  

Effective stormwater management, on the other hand, creates safe paths for polluted runoff to be captured and filtered through the ground before it reaches waterways.  This helps keep the environment clean and our communities healthy!

before image
Before: Eroded makeshift fishing access area. Credit: City of Alexandria
after image
After: Sediment forebay on the right and the pond on the left. Credit: City of Alexandria


Project Location: City of Alexandria, VA

Problem: Lake Cook was constructed in the 1970s as a fishing pond. The site is limited in open space as it is bounded by railroad tracks to the north, the Great Waves Waterpark to the west, and a townhouse development to the east. Visitors had to forge their own trails around the lake in order to fish thereby creating erosion and public safety concerns.

Solution: Following a pond feasibility study in 2012, the City of Alexandria prioritized water quality improvements and additional public amenities at Lake Cook. A sediment forebay and upflow filter were installed to remove pollutants and more than 2,500 native plants were also planted at the site. There is now an expanded fishing pier, permeable lakeside path, a pedestrian bridge and public art by a local artist is featured at the site.

Community Engagement: Before and during construction, the City met with stakeholders including community naturalists, fishermen, and residents of neighboring properties to maintain communication and get design feedback. Educational signs were added to inform the community about stormwater pollution, water quality, native plants, and the wildlife around the pond. This location is highly valued as one of the few urban fishing locations in Northern Virginia, so these signs help to increase public awareness and appreciation of the City’s natural resources.

Size: 5.32 acres

Pollutants Removed per year: 1,610 lbs. nitrogen; 167 lbs. phosphorous; 134,140 lbs. sediment

Total Cost: $4,855,000

Funding Sources: City of Alexandria; Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Partners: Virginia Department of Games and Inland Fisheries; Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority

Contact Information
Sara DeGroot | | 703-746-4127
Key project facts
Project Type
Project Scale
> $1,000,000
Story Focus
Environmental Benefits
Community Engagement
Environmental Education
Stormwater Funds
Problem Addressed
Health Hazard
Year Installed
State Legislative District
Federal Legislative District
VA 8th