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Virginia: The Elizabeth River Project (A Former EPA CARE Project)

The summary below provides a description of a Portsmouth, Virginia project that received a cooperative agreement from EPA’s former Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Program in 2007. These case studies serve as historic references, and conditions since the project was funded may have changed.

The resources developed for this project provide communities with information about ways that other communities have addressed environmental issues. Communities can use these project results to reduce environmental impacts, understand risks and become stewards of their own environment.


The Elizabeth River Project
Portsmouth, Virginia 
EPA Region 3

The Elizabeth River Project is the recipient of a Level II CARE Cooperative Agreement. It is a community-based nonprofit established in 1991. Its mission is to restore the environmental quality of the Elizabeth River, described as one of the most toxic tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.

The CARE Cooperative Agreement builds on the results of a Comparative Risk Assessment conducted with the EPA from 1993-1996. The Comparative Risk Program allowed the Elizabeth River Project to achieve consensus among scientists, regulators, industries, and community groups, on a plan to restore the Elizabeth River. Elizabeth River and Restoration, A Watershed Action Plan, lists four major objectives: remediation of contaminated sediments, restoration of wetlands/riparian forests/vegetated buffers, continuation of the “River Stars” program to enlist industrial partners, as well as innovative community education and outreach. 

The Elizabeth River Project will use CARE funding to restore 19 acres of impacted sediments off-shore of Money Point, a section of the South Norfolk-Port Lock neighborhood. The Elizabeth River Project will develop an innovative design to remove sediments contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds. This innovative design will enhance habitat values in a 6.3 acre shallow area through the construction of a first-of-its-kind “living cap” of wetlands, and an oyster reef.

Established CARE Partnership: The Living River Restoration Trust; South Norfolk Civic League; Congressional Representative J. Randy Forbes; Virginia Port Authority; Kinder Morgan Elizabeth River Terminals, LLC; Lafarge; BAE Systems, Earl Industries, LLC; Truxton Development, LLC.