Restoring Hampton Waterways

Hampton decision-makers trip 695x352

Local Hampton leaders learn about water quality issues on an on-the-water educational trip.

CBF Staff

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF's) Partnership to Restore Hampton Waterways has reduced polluted runoff, restored critical shoreline, and jump-started the restoration of native oysters in the city of Hampton, Virginia.

Hampton is located at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay, a region where residents have long relied on waterways for food, recreation, economic well-being, and our nation's security. Hampton faces many challenges for water quality, including a dense population with approximately 138,000 residents living in a 51-square mile area. Polluted runoff from streets, parking lots, and buildings is one of the city's biggest threats to clean water. While the two-year grant that launched this project ended in early 2018, it supported efforts that continue to restore local waters

Project Activities: Reducing Pollution

  • CBF created a living shoreline at Bluebird Gap Farm with help from the City of Hampton. In addition to preventing erosion, living shorelines also improve water quality by settling sediments and filtering pollution while providing shoreline access and habitat for wildlife.
  • CBF and the City of Hampton worked together to install two rain gardens at Air Power Park and Bluebird Gap Farm. Three additional rain gardens were installed at local schools and a church, including Spratley Gifted Center, Armstrong Elementary School, and First Baptist Church of Hampton.
  • Hampton's Department of Public Works installed two large-scale bioretention projects at highly visible intersections to treat polluted runoff and draw attention to green infrastructure practices. One bioretention project is at Mercury Boulevard and King Street, while a second is at Armistead Avenue and Hampton Roads Center Parkway.

Project Activities: Oyster Restoration

CBF worked with Hampton University and other partners to jumpstart oyster restoration activities in the Hampton River. Data from the program help CBF determine where oyster recruitment occurs in the river and where we should focus restoration efforts.

  • CBF surveyed the Hampton River oyster population in the fall of 2016.
  • We launched ongoing efforts with Hampton University students to count young oysters in the river through a shell-string survey.
  • Local residents continue to help CBF by deploying "spat catchers" in the river—cages containing oyster shells designed to attract baby oysters.
  • Oyster gardening workshops in Hampton in 2016, 2017, and 2018, allow volunteers to grow thousands of oysters off their docks for restoration purposes on local sanctuary reefs.
  • CBF worked with local residents to establish a new sanctuary oyster reef on Elizabeth Lake on the Hampton River.

Project Activities: Community Engagement

CBF engaged the Hampton community in a wide range of activities. Through these educational experiences and materials, CBF hopes that Hampton's leaders will take steps and make investments in managing stormwater pollution.

  • CBF partnered with the Hampton City School District from 2015 through 2018 to increase environmental literacy in Hampton schools through sustainability training and professional development for teachers and administrators, as well as field experiences for Hampton students.
  • In the fall of 2016, we hosted our Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards, or VoiCeS, adult education class in Hampton. This gave a historical, environmental, and scientific perspective on local waterways.
  • CBF hosted boat trips for local leaders on the Hampton River in September 2016, the summer of 2017, and June 2018.
  • We held a series of briefings regarding the project, including to the Hampton Waterways Restoration group and the Hampton Clean City Commission.
  • NASA Langley Research Center hosted a tour of itrs many innovative stormwater management projects in the spring of 2017 to help educate local elected officials.
  • Hampton Roads Sanitation District worked with us to include educational inserts describing simple things homeowners can do to improve water quality in monthly utility bills for thousands of its customers.
  • CBF inventoried and mapped existing green infrastructure practices in the watershed.
  • At a series of five free workshops in 2017, Hampton residents learned how to install simple practices that reduce flooding from rainfall, prevent polluted runoff, and beautify neighborhoods.
  • Working with our project partners, we engaged 289 volunteers with hands-on restoration activities and/or educational experiences on stormwater management, living shoreline construction, wetlands reconstruction, and oyster restoration. These volunteers contributed just shy of 1,800 hours of volunteer work to help restore Hampton waterways.

Project Funders and Partners

CBF is thankful to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for funding the Partnership to Restore Hampton Waterways project. We are also appreciative of our partners who have helped CBF meet the project deliverables, including the City of Hampton, especially the Department of Public Works; Hampton Roads Sanitation District; Hampton University; and NASA Langley Research Center.


The Bay Needs You

The State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today


Do you enjoy working with others to help clean the Chesapeake Bay? Do you have a few hours to spare? Whether growing oysters, planting trees, or advocating for a clean Bay, there are plenty of ways you can contribute.

This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Close