The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality released the final version of the 2010 Water Quality Report, the so-called “dirty waters list” of Virginia streams, rivers, lakes, and bays found to be polluted. According to a release from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, there are a few things to keep in mind: Continue reading
Release from Chesapeake Bay Foundation:
Bipartisan legislation that will bar the Virginia sale of fertilizer containing phosphorus for use on established lawns has passed the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia and is headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation released the 2010 State of the Bay Report. President William C. Baker had a good quote that can be applied to most anything in life: “Nothing could be more short-sighted than apathy, lax enforcement, or fear mongering. The time for action and stewardship is now.” The James River isn’t noted prominently in this report, but it is a huge factor in the health of our state and the Chesapeake Bay.
There is good news and bad. The Chesapeake Bay is showing encouraging signs of rebounding but is still in critical condition as a result of pollution. The numeric index of the Bay’s health jumped three points from 2008 to 2010, with eight of 13 indicators rising. The indicator for the health of the blue crab population spiked 15 points, as the Bay’s population increased significantly last year. Also, underwater grasses showed steady progress for the fourth year in a row. But the overall health index of the Bay is 31 out of 100, which means it is still a system dangerously out of balance.
Do we take for granted these days how clean the James River is as it passes through Richmond, especially considering that it used to be an extension of the sewer system whenever it rained? That was a long time ago, but back then people didn’t swim in the river. Some environmental pioneers, like Newton Ancarrow, did their best to wake up Richmond to the neglected, polluted river.
According to data from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the water quality for the James River as it flows through the city rates well in tests for E. coli bacteria (except when the river levels are high due to heavy rains) at five key swimming areas: Pony Pasture, 42nd Street (Main Area), North Bank (Texas Beach), Belle Isle (Hollywood Rapid) and Tredegar Beach (Brown’s Island).
A few long-time James River photographers I’ve spoken with have lamented that they didn’t take photos of the bad things they saw back when the river was so polluted. Those photos could stand as a testament to how far the health of the James has progressed.
For many Richmonders, the James River is playground. Do you remember a time when the James was dirty and unsuitable for recreation? Do we take that for granted now? How important to you is it that the James is clean? How much time and effort do you put toward its upkeep?
The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s outdoors writer, Andy Thompson, produced a column Friday declaring Virginia might have to get tough to protect James. It included discussion of recent commentary from Bill Street, executive director of the James River Association, and W. Tayloe Murphy Jr., of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which James River News Hub posted previously. Here is tidbit from Thompson:
For at least a quarter century, Virginia and other bay states have played chicken with the federal government – and won. They’ve called the feds’ bluff, betting they wouldn’t use the authority granted by the Clean Water Act of 1972 to enforce cleanup plans the states paid little more than lip service to.
Well, now the feds seem serious, threatening states’ permit-issuing capacity for things such as wastewater treatment plants, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and residential developments.
“Everyone acknowledges it’s not the best way to accomplish the goals [of cleaning up the bay],” said Bill Street. “But if [the EPA is] left with no choice, then they are compelled by the Clean Water Act to do that.”
Bill Street, executive director of the James River Association, wrote an editorial in Sunday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch about protecting the James River and Chesapeake Bay from pollution:
Disappointingly, Virginia’s recently released draft cleanup plan misses the mark for the James River. While it strives to meet the pollution limits set for every other part of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, it proposes to do only 60 percent of the job for the James River. Instead, the commonwealth wants to change the definition of what “clean” means — but only for the James.
In other words, rather than putting in place a plan that would require concrete action to improve water quality, the state is planning to revise the rules so that more pollution can continue to be discharged into our river.
W. Tayloe Murphy Jr. also declared in the Times-Dispatch that the Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforst are still plagued by “free lunches” to polluters:
I urge Bay state leaders to stop handing out “free lunches” to the polluters and hold them accountable by supporting the Chesapeake Clean Water Act. A truly restored Chesapeake Bay will redound to everyone’s benefit, boosting jobs, the economy, and quality of life. Twenty-five years hence, let us not be recycling old speeches; let us instead be celebrating a clean Bay.
Those concerned about a healthy James River should let their voices be heard by submitting their comments by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by attending the public comment meeting Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Robins Pavilion Jepson Alumni Center, University of Richmond, 28 Westhampton Way.
With all the rain we had last week, its time to reassess your gutters and downspouts. An organization that protects the James River is offering a way to become part of the solution to reduce water runoff and pollutants from homes and lawns.
The James River Association‘s runoff calculator estimates the runoff created by a given yard. You enter your address, answer some questions about your property, and at the end, you get a number.
Once you determine how much you contribute to the problem, the site offers some simple solutions.
The idea is to make sure water coming off your roof is directed to a place where it has a chance to soak into the ground. Some people use rain barrels to capture water and use it for irrigation.
The runoff calculator is meant to show people how their home is connected to one of the state’s most valuable resources.