How Much Have We Lost?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 44th District Water Quality - Little Improvement

2014 44th District Water Quality Map
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is back out with their 2014 Water Quality Report.  The Richmond Times Dispatch framed it pretty clearly "Thousands of Miles of Va. Rivers are Polluted, Report Shows."  DEQ found that 71% of Virginia's rivers and 75% of estuaries (what we have in our community) are polluted.

The 44th District is no exception.  I've written about previous reports for the 44th District here:
The Dixie Pig: Lee & Mt. Vernon's Streams & Rivers Are Polluted says VA DEQ (Apr. 3, 2012)
The Dixie Pig: No Progress - Creeks in the 44th District Still Polluted (Mar. 31, 2012)

Here are the top lines:

  • Little Hunting Creek - Impaired for Fish Consumption - "Excursions above the human health criteria of 0.64 parts per billion (ppb) polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were recorded in 2 water quality grab samples (2006, 2006), collected at monitoring station 1aLIF002.48."
  • Paul Spring Branch - Impaired for Recreation - "E. coli bacteria criterion excursions (5 of 12 samples - 41.7%) at station 1aPAU001.17, at Route 626 (Fort Hunt Road)."
  • Paul Spring Branch - Impaired for Aquatic Life - Benthic-Macroinvertebrate Bioassessments - Two biological monitoring events in 2007 at station 1aPAU001.17 (Route 626) resulted in a VSCI score which indicates an impaired macroinvertebrate community.
  • Hunting Creek - Impaired for Recreation - "E. coli bacteria criterion excursions; 17 of 39 samples (43.6%) from station 1aHUT000.01, at George Washington Parkway, 3 of 11 samples (27.3%) from station 1aHUT001.72, at Route 611/241 (Telegraph Road), and 4 of 29 samples (13.8%) from station 1aCAM002.92, at Eisenhower Avenue."
  • All Potomac Estuary Embayments - "The fish consumption use is categorized as impaired due to a Virginia Department of Health, Division of Health Hazards Control, PCB fish consumption advisory. The advisory, dated 4/19/99 and modified 12/13/04, limits consumption of American eel, bullhead catfish, channel catfish less than eighteen inches long, largemouth bass, anadromous (coastal) striped bass, sunfish species, smallmouth bass, white catfish, white perch, gizzard shad, and yellow perch consumption to no more than two meals per month. The advisory also bans the consumption of carp and channel catfish greater than eighteen inches long."
You can access the data yourself online here:


Until we get serious about storm water management in the community, our rivers and streams will continue to be polluted.  Supervisor Hyland has repeatedly proposed increases in our stormwater tax to fund improvements, but they are repeatedly rejected.

Our local creeks remain direct conduits for surface water to the Potomac River.

Redevelopment of U.S. 1 will go along way towards solving this, but that is still a decade away. We need to take steps now.

2 comments:

  1. Big problem associated with redevelopment and by right issues that gives a pass to developers to not add stormwater upgrades. This is a legislative issue that has to have some teeth that compels developers to be up to the statewide standards for stormwater regardless of whether their project requires a rezoning or not. Allowing a site to continue to be a source of pollutants or watershed damaging stormwater outfalls because it was initially built before better standards were in place is an outrageous practice that keeps our watersheds in the toilet, especially so in older developed areas like the Richmond Highway corridor. The deed on my home originally had covenants saying the house could not be sold to a non-gentile. No one can claim that they can use such a covenant because it is grandfathered into the deed before such covenants are no longer enforceable under the law. How can developers use by right to avoid bringing their properties up to current standards under the law to protect the watersheds. This to me seems to require change through the legislature. Since this is such a big problem in more developed areas like Fairfax County, I would expect a request to examine possible legislative change should be coming from the Board of Supervisors asking the elected legislators to address this issue in Richmond.

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  2. Earnestly, I'm not sure what realistic changes you can make now to reverse stormwater issues for the district. The time for action was upon the original developments. Now would just be pissing off a lot of people with little positive outcome.

    Wastewater facility upgrades is probably a bigger net-net. And local education ongoing. Perhaps some tax credits. Eg, I get nothing for riding my bike 17 miles each way to work, but someone gets credits for all sorts of stuff that only marginally helps the local environment.

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