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Upper Watts Branch Forest Preserve

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Watts Branch is a 22 square mile watershed that drains into the Potomac River. The headwaters of Watts Branch, approximately 16 miles of stream, originate in the western half of the City of Rockville. Due to impacts of development and stormwater runoff, Watts Branch is experiencing increased erosion, which releases excess sediment and other pollutants that contribute to poor water quality in the stream, the Potomac River, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, this erosion threatens public infrastructure, trails and forest and wetland habitat. The Upper Watts Branch Park Forest Preserve Environment Restoration Project will enhance the Watts Branch watershed through stream restoration, stormwater management, wetland enhancement, reforestation and protection of public utilities. 

The project was recommended in the 
Watts Branch Watershed  Study and Management Plan as a crucial component to the long-term health of the watershed. It was also recommended

Upper Watts Branch StoryMap
by the Watts Branch Partnership and approved by the Mayor and Council. Staff has worked closely with the community on the project, including organizing a Citizens Task Force and field stream walksTo learn more about the watershed and the project, visit the Project History and BackgroundAdditional Project Information and Documents and the Upper Watts Branch Story Map.


The project will take place within the Upper Watts Branch Forest Preserve Park and on City-owned parcels bounded between Gude Drive, Aster Boulevard, Nelson Street and Princeton Place. View the project limits.

Planned Improvements

  • Minimize/control channel erosion
  • Protect existing utilities in and near streams from erosion damage
  • Reduce pollutants entering the stream
  • Protect existing forest areas
  • Protect and enhance existing wetlands
  • Enhance stream, forest, and riparian habitats
  • Protect and maintain existing trail systems
  • Establish native plants and control invasive vegetation

Project Schedule

 Mayor and Council Award design – August 2011 (Complete)
 Initiate study – October 2011 (Complete)
 Repair locations identified (Complete)
                   Storm Drain Outfall Channels – September 2012
                   Stream Channels – February 2014 
 Complete conceptual design (Complete)

                   Storm Drain Outfall Channels – April 2013
                   Stream Channels – August 2014
 Complete preliminary design (Complete)
                   Storm Drain Outfall Channels – February 2014
                   Stream Channels – November 2014
 Complete final design (Complete)
                   Storm Drain Outfall Channels – August 2014
                   Stream Channels – March 2015
 Mayor and Council Award construction – January 23, 2017 (Complete)
 Project Notice to Proceed - February 22, 2017 (Complete)
 Begin Construction – April 14, 2017 (Complete)
 Complete Construction - June 2018


John Hollida, Rockville Project Manager, at  or 240-314-8526
Janet Kelly at
 or 240-314-8316.


The Mayor and Council approved on August 15, 2011 the award of a contract to Gaithersburg-based Charles P. Johnson and Associates for $288,000. The contract award includes restoration of three storm drain outfall channels and bid alternatives in the event the main channel of Watts Branch requires restoration. Design change order #1 in the amount of $39,108 was approved on August 12, 2013 to perform additional stormwater analysis and field survey more areas of the park.  Design change order #2 in the amount of $92,835 was approved by the Mayor and Council at their November 24, 2014 meeting to provide design and permitting services of addition areas in the park requiring environmental stabilization.  The current total design contract is $419,943.

At their January 23, 2017 meeting, the Mayor and Council awarded a construction contract to Environmental Quality Resources, Inc. $1,759,561.80. The award includes environmental stabilization restoration of seven locations within the Upper Watts Branch Park.  Also included is the reforestation of 2.5 acres of park property near Nelson Street.  

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