Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) & Charlottesville Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP)

Conservation Assistance Programs


Both the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) and the Charlottesville Conservation Assistance Program provide financial incentives for non-agricultural “best management practices”. VCAP is available District-wide and was developed in partnership with other soil and water conservation districts and the VASWCD Virginia Conservation Assistance Program. CCAP is a component of Charlottesville’s Water Resources Protection Program, and has a dedicated source of funds from that program. Both programs provide financial incentives for 11 practices to help non-agricultural landowners reduce their “stormwater footprint” and improve water quality. Funding availability varies for both VCAP and CCAP. For more details on VCAP, CCAP, and urban best management practices, contact Michael Ramsey at 434.975.0224 ext. 103 or using our contact form

Program Overview

Best Management Practices encompass a wide range of complexity, requiring different levels of engineering and construction requirements. Thus those practices that are generally small in scale and/or emphasize vegetative plantings over construction will typically be called “basic,” while practices that require more planning, engineering, and construction will be designated “intermediate” and “advanced” in a rough three-level approach.

Basic practices generally require no engineering in their installation and minimal planning. As a result they can generally be planned and installed by an applicant with minimal Soil and Water Conservation District (District) assistance. Intermediate practices require more extensive planning and in some instances some engineering and thus will require the applicant generally to hire a skilled contractor with some engineering expertise, and specialized job approval certification on the part of the supervising District personnel. Advanced practices are the most complex, in almost all cases requiring extensive planning, the hiring of a skilled contractor, and specialized staff job approval certification.

BMPs classified as "Basic" are Pet Waste Stations, Impervious Surface Removal, and Urban Nutrient Management Planning. BMPs classified as "Intermediate" are Conservation Landscaping, Rain Gardens, Rainwater Harvesting, and Vegetated Stormwater Conveyance. BMPs classified as "Advanced" are Bioretention, Constructed Wetlands, Permeable Pavement, and Green Roofs. For detailed information on these practices, see VCAP & CCAP Practices.

To be eligible for the program your property must meet the following criteria:

      • Sites must have been developed for three years or more to be eligible for cost share assistance. Exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis.
      • Sites must be unencumbered by any regulatory programs.
      • Sites must be released from any erosion and sediment control (or land-disturbing) permits as applicable.
      • All applicable federal, state, and local permits must be obtained prior to any contract approval.
      • Proposed practices must provide water quality benefits above and beyond that which is already provided for the site.

    All practices require an Operation and Maintenance agreement to be signed upon completion of the project, which ensures proper maintenance of the project for the duration of the lifespan. Urban nutrient management plans are valid for 3 years; Pet Waste Stations have a lifespan of 3 years and all other practices have a lifespan of 10 years. However, once installed, projects should be considered permanent landscape features and an effort should be made to continued management past the lifespan.

    VCAP process

      1. Fill out application and submit it to the TJSWCD (must be submitted at least 7 days prior to Board meeting).
      2. A TJSWCD staff member will be in contact to set up a site visit (this can be arranged prior to submitting an application if technical assistance is needed).
      3. The application is taken to the TJSWCD Board for approval (see the TJSWCD Calendar for Board meeting dates.
      4. Approval letter is sent to the homeowner detailing funding amount and information needed for final plans, which may include a professional engineer design certification for some practices.
      5. Final plans are submitted to the TJSWCD for approval by the homeowner prior to beginning construction. Upon approval, construction may begin.
      6. After completion, a TJSWCD staff member will schedule a follow-up site visit to ensure the practice was installed and follows the approved plans. An engineer "as-built" certification is required for some practices.
      7. Upon submittal of all invoices and certifications, a reimbursement check is sent to the homeowner.
      8. Spot checks will be conducted randomly for the duration of the lifespan. If a practice fails the spot check, the homeowner will receive written notice and allowed adequate time to fix the issue. If the issue is not resolved, the homeowner will be required to pay back a portion of the cost-share funds.

Eligible VCAP & CCAP Practices

For additional information and materials on these practices, see the links in the VCAP Documents section of this page.

Pet Waste Stations


Pet waste naturally contains bacteria that can be harmful to human health and is also rich in nutrients. When pet waste is washed off the land surface into our local storm drains and streams, it can cause algae blooms and bacterial contamination of waterways. Installing pet waste stations in your neighborhood can improve the cleanliness of the neighborhood and the quality of local streams. This practice is for use in common areas of neighborhoods only, not an individual homeowner’s back yard. Typically pet waste stations consist of a metal pole with a sign post to explain the pet waste station, a waste bag dispenser, and sometimes a 10-gallon waste receptacle.

The cost share payment for this practice is 75% of the cost incurred up to $400 per station.

Impervious Surface Removal

The amount of impervious surface in a watershed is directly linked to poor water quality. In vegetated areas, water is able to slow down and infiltrate into the ground, which filters out pollutants and recharges groundwater reducing the quantity and increasing the quality of water entering the waterway. When this vegetation is replaced with impervious surface it alters the natural hydrology of the watershed and increases stormwater runoff. This results in more water entering the waterway at higher velocities, causing more frequent flooding, scouring of stream banks and lower base flows. This also accelerates the delivery of pollutants, fecal bacteria and nutrients, from the land to the local waterways causing habitat loss and decreased biodiversity.

Removing impervious surfaces and replacing it with a surface that can infiltrate water (either pervious pavers or native plants), reduces the amount of stormwater runoff, which directly improves water quality.

This practice is funded at $2.50 per square foot of impervious surface removed up to $10,000.00 maximum payment. The impervious surface must be replaced with either native vegetation or permeable pavement to qualify.

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting systems intercept, divert, store, and release rainfall for future use. Rainwater harvesting includes the collection and conveyance into an above- or below-ground storage tank where it can later be used or directed to on-site stormwater disposal/infiltration. Uses may include flushing of toilets and urinals inside buildings, landscape irrigation, exterior washing (e.g. car washes, building facades, sidewalks, street sweepers, fire trucks, etc.), fire suppression (sprinkler) systems, supply for chilled water cooling towers, replenishing and operation of water features and water fountains, and laundry, if approved by the local authority.

In many instances, rainwater harvesting can be combined with a secondary (down-gradient) runoff reduction practice to enhance runoff volume reduction rates and/or provide treatment of overflow from the rainwater harvesting system.

VCAP-CCAP cost share for this practice is limited to the installation of cisterns with a capacity of at least 250 gallons. However, the TJSWCD has smaller, 45 gallon, rain barrels available to purchase. For more information, contact Lauriston.

The payment rate is $2.00 per gallon of storage, up to $10,000.00 maximum payment. For full technical specifications please refer to the VCAP manual, all design and installation plans must be certified by an engineer and must meet the specifications of DEQ Stormwater Management Design Specification No. 6.

Rain Gardens

A Rain Garden is a shallow landscaped depression that incorporates many of the pollutant removal mechanisms that temporarily ponds runoff 6 to 12 inches above the mulch layer and then infiltrates into the underlying native soil. These practices are designed to treat runoff from small areas, such as individual rooftops, driveways and other on-lot features in single-family detached residential developments. Inflow is typically from a downspout with energy dissipaters or can be sheet flow from a driveway/patio or lawn. When planted with native plants, these landscaped areas can also serve as habitat for local pollinators and other important wildlife. This urban practice is intended for individual homeowners or public spaces, and is appropriate for small rain gardens with a drainage area of 0.5 acre or less.

This practice is eligible for 75% cost share up to $2,000 per application.


This practice is similar to rain gardens but is larger and must contain an underdrain system. Bioretention systems are intended for larger public or commercial spaces with a drainage area over 0.5 acres.

The funding is 75% cost share up to a maximum payment of $10,000. For full technical specifications please refer to the VCAP manual, all design and installation plans must be certified by an engineer and must meet the specifications of DEQ Stormwater Design Specification No. 9.

Conservation Landscaping (CL)

Plants typically have a roof system that is as deep as the plant is tall; therefore taller plants have deeper roots that allow for more infiltration of water. As seen in the picture below, turf grass has a very shallow root system compared to other native plants, so planting these other types of plants with deeper root systems will better infiltrate water. Native plants are also lower maintenance as they are adapted to local soil characteristics and climate, reducing or eliminating the need to apply chemicals and fertilizers.

Replacing managed turf areas with native plants (including native grasses, shrubs & trees), improves water quality by reducing the amount of chemicals need to maintain the plants and infiltrating more water allowing the soils to naturally filter out other potentially harmful pollutants. Planting native plants also improves wildlife habitat which is especially significant for the very important pollinators of this area.

The incentive payment rate has three levels of application as follows. Note that only one cost share rate may be applied per planting area.

    (1) MEADOW: herbaceous native plants in meadow setting, $250 per 1,000 square feet;
    (2) FOREST: no-mow-zone forested landscape, using sapling trees, tree tubes, and a ten foot spacing, up to $9.00 per tree;
    (3) LANDSCAPING: landscaped woody bed setting, $250 per 1,000 square feet.
    *Payments will not exceed the total cost of the project*
    *Maximum payment for any Conservation Landscaping project is $3,500.00. Only one cost share rate can be applied per planting area.*

Permeable Paving

Traditionally paved surfaces are impermeable, converting rainfall to runoff. Permeable pavement promotes a high degree of runoff volume reduction and nutrient removal, and it can also reduce the effective impervious cover of a development site. Permeable pavements are alternative paving surfaces that allow stormwater runoff to filter through voids in the pavement surface into an underlying stone reservoir, where it is temporarily stored and/or infiltrated. A variety of permeable pavement surfaces are available, including pervious concrete, porous asphalt, and permeable interlocking concrete pavers. While the specific design may vary, all permeable pavements have a similar structure, consisting of a surface pavement layer, an underlying stone aggregate reservoir layer and a filter layer or fabric installed on the bottom.

Permeable pavement is typically designed to treat stormwater that falls on the actual pavement surface area, but it may also be used to accept run-on from small adjacent impervious areas, such as impermeable driving lanes or rooftops. However, careful sediment control is needed for any run-on areas to avoid clogging of the down-gradient permeable pavement.

This BMP is funded at 50% cost share, up to $3 per square foot with a maximum payment of $12,000.00. For full technical specifications please refer to the VCAP manual, all design and installation plans must be certified by an engineer and must meet the specifications of DEQ Stormwater Design Specification No. 7.

Vegetated Stormwater Conveyances

Vegetated Stormwater Conveyances serve to prevent scour and erosion, and provide water quality treatment while conveying stormwater. They are constructed trapezoidal channels lined with vegetation that inhibit erosion. From a water quality perspective, they are preferable to pipes because they allow more soil/water contact and more opportunity for infiltration. The two types of vegetated conveyances are: Dry Swales, and Wet Swales, with an optional grass channel as a pretreatment.

Dry swales and wet swales are funded at 75% cost share. For full technical specifications please refer to the VCAP manual, all design and installation plans must be certified by an engineer and must meet the specifications of DEQ Stormwater Management Design Specification No. 10 (Dry Swale) or 11 (Wet Swale).

This BMP is funded at a 75% of costs reimbursement rate, with a maximum payment of $5,000.00 for Dry Swales and Step-Pool Conveyances, and $3,000.00 for wet swales. Pre-treatment costs, if necessary, are included in the cost of the primary practice.

Constructed Wetlands

Constructed wetlands are artificial systems built to mimic the functions of natural wetlands. A constructed wetland can temporarily store, filter, and clean runoff from driveways, roofs and lawns and thereby improve water quality. The wetland environment provides an ideal environment for gravitational settling, biological uptake, and microbial activity. Constructed wetlands are the final element in the roof-to-stream runoff reduction sequence. They should only be considered for use after all other upland runoff reduction opportunities have been exhausted and there is still a remaining water quality or channel protection volume to manage.

Constructed wetlands are funded at 75% cost share with a maximum payment of $5,000.00. For full technical specifications please refer to the VCAP manual, all design and installation plans must be certified by an engineer and must meet the specifications of DEQ Stormwater Design Specification No. 13.

Green Roofs

Green roofs or vegetated roofs are alternatives to traditional roofing materials. They contain drought loving plants, as well as a waterproof membrane and under drain system. A portion of the captured stormwater evaporates or is taken up by plants, which helps reduce runoff volumes, peak runoff rates, and pollutant loads on development sites. This practice is intended for situations where the primary design objective of the vegetated roof is stormwater management. Green roof installations provide many other environmental benefits such as energy efficiency, air quality improvements, and habitat.

This practice is funded at $10 per square foot up to a maximum payment of $10,000.00.

Urban Nutrient Management


Surveys show that about 50 percent of homeowners fertilize their lawns, but fewer than 20 percent of those who fertilize consult an expert lawn professional or take a soil test to determine the optimal fertilization strategy. Nutrient export associated with turf grass fertilizer use from home, commercial, and industrial lawns depends on various landscape factors, fertilizer application rates and overall lawn care practices. Having an urban nutrient management plan developed ensures an optimal fertilization strategy will be implemented and helps to reduce nutrient export from fertilized lawns.

Please contact us for reimbursement details.

Dry Well (DW)

A Dry Well is a subsurface storage facility that receives and temporarily stores stormwater runoff from roofs of structures and may be either a structural chamber or excavated pit filled with gravel. Discharge of this stored runoff from a dry well occurs through infiltration into the surrounding soils. Due to its storage capacity, a dry well may be used to reduce the total stormwater quality design storm runoff volume that a roof would ordinarily discharge to downstream stormwater management facilities. These practices designed to treat runoff from small areas, such as individual rooftops, driveways and other on-lot features in single-family detached residential developments. Inflow is typically from a downspout with energy dissipaters or can be sheet flow from a driveway/patio or lawn.

This practice is funded at a 75% resimbursement rate for costs with a maximum payment of $2,000.00.

Infiltration Basin (IB)

Infiltration is a practice that provides temporary surface and/or subsurface storage of runoff. Examples include gravel trenches or sodded area over an underground gravel bed or storage chambers with or without an underdrain. Infiltration practices typically treat larger drainage areas such as parking lots, multiple lots and/or commercial rooftops. Inflow can be either sheet flow or concentrated flow. Infiltration should be located in common area or within drainage easements, to treat a combination of roadway and lot runoff and can be sized for either Level 1 (1 inch rainfall) or Level 2 (1.25 inch rainfall) treatment.

This practice is reimbursed up to 75% of costs with a maximum payment of $10,000.00

VCAP and CCAP in the News

Martin's Meadow

July 2015: Martin documented the transformation of his original turf in September 2013 to the beautiful native meadow that is is today.

Watch the video here!

Charlottesville Rain Garden places in the BUBBAs

April 2015: First Place Residential BMP - Ormsby Rain Garden. "Mr. Ormsby installed a rain garden on his residential property to help control large volumes of stormwater runoff that were flowing over his property and causing erosion."

Read more from the Chesapeake Stormwater Network

Initiative seeks to certify qualified conservation landscape designers

March 2015: "To meet the growing demand for qualified professionals, the Chesapeake Conservation Landscape Council and partners (University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension, Wetlands Watch, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Habitat Partners) is spearheading an initiative to certify professionals in the design, installation and maintenance of ... landscape [stormwater management] practices."

Read more from the Chesapeake Bay Journal

Making a Meadow at Pleasant Grove

December 2014: (page 14) "Part of the plan included planting borders of wildlife-friendly trees in hedgerows around the meadows. All of the hedgerows will connect back to existing forest, giving wildlife an avenue to travel through and around the meadows... Because of the grant, and the willingness of non-profits and other agencies to work together, Fluvanna County has not had to contribute money to the program. In fact, the county may end up saving money, since the fields will no longer need to be maintained."

Read more from the Fluvanna Review [PDF]

VCAP-CCAP Forms, Documents, and Links

    VCAP Manual

    Detailed instructions on all VCAP practices.

    Rain Gardens Technical Guide

    A publication by the Virginia Department of Forestry which goes step-by-step through how to create your own rain garden