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Environment

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Contact the Environment Committee Chairs

Speaker: Mr. Randy Bartlett, Deputy Director of Public Works and Environmental Services

  • Mr. Bartlett discussed the programs supported by the Stormwater Services District Tax and an update on the regulatory requirements driving the program. Stormwater services represented nearly 4% of the Capital Improvement Program budget or 0.5% of the FY2014 adopted budget.

February 2013 Environmental Committee Report

  • Uranium Mining – February 19
    • Uranium mining may be dead in the General Assembly but an article in the E&E News suggests that the lobbyists have taken the fight to Governor McDonnell.
  • Traces of Anxiety Drub Affect Behavior in Fish – February 14
  • EPA Invites Communities to Apply for Smart Growth Assistance – February 13
    • The EPA put a call out to communities that would like smart growth implementation assistance (SGIA). The program will provide assistance in four areas:
      1. Community Resilience to Disasters and Climate Change – Projects should aim to develop planning principles and building design guidelines that ensure future development provides communities with better protection against storms, floods, and other natural disasters.
      2. Redevelopment for Job Creation – Projects should aim to support growing industries that provide quality jobs for existing residents using land use policies that direct development to existing neighborhoods, are pedestrian-friendly, allow for transit connections, and are close to businesses and public services.
      3. Manufactured and Modular Homes in Sustainable Neighborhood Design – Projects should help communities that are using manufactured and modular homes to address sudden population and economic growth. These communities should provide a mix of uses and maximize existing streets and other infrastructure investments, community gathering spaces, and water and energy efficiency.
      4. Medical and Social Service Facilities Siting – Projects should aim to explore planning for high-quality community service facilities, including health care centers and social services centers, in ways that support neighborhood economic development and healthy communities.
    • For more information on the SGIA program and applications visit http://epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia.htm. For more information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities visit http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov
  • Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee, Technical Advisory Committee – February 12
    1. Tier 3 tailpipe emission standards: EPA is in the process of developing tailpipe emission standards for cars and light-duty trucks. The emissions of heavy-duty trucks will also be affected by revised fuel sulfur standards. The rule is expected to include tailpipe emission standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx), reactive volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates (PM) and will lower the sulfur content limits for gasoline to allow for use of 3-way catalyst controls. The rule is expected to lower NOx emissions from existing vehicles by 25%. The reductions in current vehicles is achieved by the introduction of cleaner fuels. The rule is projected to be published in the Federal Register this March. The TAC approved a letter for action by the MWAQC to go to EPA endorsing the new standards.
    2. New road-side air quality monitors: EPA is requiring States (including the District of Columbia) to install road side ambient air quality monitors. One of the new Virginia monitors will be installed near the mixing bowl. The exact location of the new monitor has not been determined yet but it is expected that wherever the new monitors will go they are likely to be among the highest reading monitors in the region. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) has upgraded all the ozone monitors so that the QA/QC can be done overnight.
    3. Mobile emissions budget: The VOC and NOx budgets are projected to continue to drop due to new tailpipe emissions standards but are projected to start increasing again in 2040 as the area continues to grow. Due to changes the mobile emissions budget will need to go through a second round of public review.
    4. Stakeholder Member Appointments: Ana Prados was re-appointed to the TAC representing the Federation. Other stakeholder representatives come from the Edison Electric Institute, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and the Department of Defense.
    For more information see http://www.mwcog.org/committee/committee/documents.asp?COMMITTEE_ID=97.
  • First Round of Public Meetings Fairfax Connector Silver Line, Phase 1 Bus Service Plan – January 31 - February 11
    • The Fairfax Connector held a number of public hearings on the proposed bus service changes that will take place once the Silver Line to Wiehle Road has opened up in December of this year. There will be 12 new Fairfax Connector routes, 21 existing routes (41% of all Connector routes) will be modified and six routes will be discontinued. Many of the routes being modified had been terminating at the West Falls Church Metro stations – they now will terminate at the Wiehle Road Metro station instead. Other routes that will be modified are routes that had terminated at the Tyson’s Westpark Park and Ride and those will terminate at one of the Tyson’s area Metro Stations instead. The discontinued routes are duplicated by Metro Service or some of the new routes. The time between Silver Line trains is expected to be 6 minutes during rush hour; the same as the current and future Orange Line. To accommodate Silver Line trains going through the Roslyn tunnel the Blue Line frequency will be decreased or some Blue Line Trains may terminate at the Roslyn Metro Station. The Connector expects that there will be no increased cost to the system as a result of the changes and in fact they are expecting the time between busses will decrease due to the shorter bus runs. The plan will be taken up by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in July. For more information see the Fairfax Connector Silver Line, Phase 1 Bus Service Plan web site http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/connector/routes/dullesrail/.
  • Friends of Accotink Creek (FAcC) – February 4
    • The FAcC has started planning the Sustainable Living Presentations as part of the Lands and Waters Grant. There are four specific topics being developed:
      • Stormwater Management @ Home: This program would involve having professionals look at stormwater management issues at individual homes or neighborhoods and discuss remedies including rough cost estimates.
      • Composting for Your Home: Discuss options for composting household food scraps and how to use home compost.
      • What is an RPA and What You Can and Can’t Do: This will be a basic primmer on Resource Protection Areas.
      • Permeable Pavers: This will discuss the different types of porous pavers and how they could be use in your yards.
      • Native Plant Landscaping: This will be a basic introduction to the wonderful native plants and how they could be used in your yard.
    • All these programs are in development but may be available to your homeowner or civic association later this year. If there are any of these topics that your HOA or CA would like to have contact Flint Webb, the Federation Environment Chair and he will put you in touch with the folks preparing the presentations.

    Federation Board Meeting – January 24

    • The Federation Board was treated to an excellent presentation about the litter clogging up our streams from Elizabeth Martin. The presentation is posted on the Environmental Committee Federation web page below The Board requested additional information and failed to act on the proposed resolution. One of the new issues discussed in the debate surrounding the litter resolution was the problem of shopping carts being discarded in the streams. Replacing shopping carts are a significant cost to commercial businesses in the area and are also difficult to remove from our stream valleys. There was also a discussion about requiring businesses to charge for shopping bags; several bag bills were introduced this year but they died in committee. This issue will be re-introduced in conjunction with the 2014 Legislative Program.
  • Friends of Accotink Creek (FAcC) – January 22
    • The FAcC has been given a grant from Lands and Waters. The Grant includes three parts:
      1. Sustainable living Presentations: Prepare a set of presentations for Home Owner Associations, Civic Associations and District Councils on a number of environmental issues.
      2. Community Engagement: Originally the concept was to outreach to specific HOAs and homeowners to explain the need for stormwater easements so the County can go forward on projects that are being held up due to lack of necessary easements.
      3. Filing for 501(c)(3) status: This will require preparation of Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws. The organization will be a member organization. There was some discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of registering as a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) organization but the upshot was that the advantages of being able to get tax deductible donations outweighed the limitation on political activity.
    • FAcC also had a tour of a construction site to identify issues with the stormwater management procedures. The plan is to develop a number of citizen inspectors that could help the County identify improper stormwater management at construction sites to help leverage their funding.
    • FAcC has also started planning for the spring stream cleanups and would like to use the cleanups to educate the public with other issues in our streams including erosion, invasive plants, rare and endangered native plants, and hazards such as poison ivy. The plan is to have a designated person to walk the stream with the volunteers to point out things along the way.
    • FAcC officially signed their position supporting EPA’s attempt to regulate peak flow as a surrogate for sediment loading.
  • Upcoming Meetings/workshops:
    • February 25 – Monthly Meeting of Friends of Accotink Creek. 7 pm Audrey Moore Rec Center, 8100 Braddock Road, Annandale, VA 22003. See http://www.accotink.org.
    • February 25 - State Implementation Plan Revision - 1997 Fine Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards. 7 pm, Fairfax County Government Center, in conference room 2/3. For further information see http://townhall.virginia.gov/l/ViewNotice.cfm?GNID=438.
    • February 26 – Master Naturalist training program starts. The training includes 40 hours of training meeting on Mondays. For more information see http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/fairfax.html#training.
    • February 28 – Air & Waste Management Association, Baltimore-Washington Chapter meeting. Dr. Ana Prados (Federation MWAQC TAC representative) will be speaking on using satellite data to monitor air quality. 6:30 – 9:30 pm, National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) offices located at 444 North Capitol Street, NW - Suite 307- Washington, DC 20001. Conflicts with the Federation Board meeting so I will be missing the February Board meeting.
    • The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards have received approval from MAC-ISA to give CEUs for 5 of their Tree Steward training classes.
        They include:
      1. Urban Landscaping on 3/5, Ian Robertson (this one is at UVA)
      2. Roots and Soil on 3/12, Mike Abbot (at Ivy Creek)
      3. Riparian buffers, Martin Johnson and Selecting the right tree Janet Eden on 3/19.
        Classes are from 9:00 to noon at the Dept. of Forestry building in Fontaine Research Park, Charlottesville, unless specified otherwise.
        Each class will provide 3 credit hours, and registration is $25.
        For questions and to register, email C’ville.area.tree.stewards@gmail.com or Doris Stamper dstreefarm@gmail.com
        Please register early, since space is limited to 5 professionals per class.
    • March 6 – Trees, the Dirty Truth
      • the next exciting Roanoke Tree Care Workshop put on by Trees Virginia, March 6, 2013, Virginia Western CC, Roanoke VA,
      • 7:30 – 8:00 Registration Networking Breakfast
      • 8:00 to 8:30 Welcome
      • 8:30 – 9:15 “The Potential of Biochar for Tree Management” Ancient practices may prove to be a new tool for soil enhancement. This talk will review the potential use of biochar, a type of charcoal, to increase soil productivity. New research regarding the use of biochar as a soil amendment will be presented.
        Dr. Kelby Fite, Arboriculture Researcher, Bartlett Tree Research Lab
      • 9:15 – 10:00 “Trees: A Green, Cost Effective Stormwater Management Practice”
        Discover how effective trees and forests are at intercepting, infiltrating, consuming, and cleaning stormwater in our communities. Learn how much stormwater can be reduced, which trees to plant and where, simple retrofits that work, and how municipalities are receiving credit for TMDLs and MS4 permits.
        Vincent Cotrone, Regional Urban Forester, Penn State University
      • 10:00 – 10:15 BREAK
      • 10:15-11:00 “Understanding Nursery Production – From Propagule to Tree” Increase you understanding of ornamental tree production from start to finish when grown in containers or the field.
        Jim Owen, Asst. Professor of Horticulture, Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center
      • 11:00 – 11:45 “New Tree and Plant Health Care Opportunities for 2013” We will discuss new insect pests and control options, disease control and plant growth regulators.
        Jean A. Scott, Tree Healthcare Specialist, Rainbow Tree Care,
      • 12:00 – 1:00 LUNCH
      • 1:00 – 3:00 3 Concurrent Rotating Sessions:
      • Registration is open at treesvirginia.org
    • March 15 & 16, 2013 – Community Tree Conference – Asheville NC
      • for Arborists, Property Owners, Design Professionals and All Tree Enthusiasts
      • Featuring Philip van Wassenaer Consulting Arborist, Urban Forest Innovations, Inc. of Toronto, Ontario
      • Lenoir-Rhyne University Center for Graduate Studies Studies 36 Montford Avenue, Asheville NC 28801
      • Sponsored by Asheville GreenWorks thanks to a Grant from North Carolina Urban and Community Forestry.
    • March 25 – Monthly Meeting of Friends of Accotink Creek. 7 pm Audrey Moore Rec Center, 8100 Braddock Road, Annandale, VA 22003. See http://www.accotink.org.
    • April 6 – 25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanups start. See http://fergusonfoundation.org/trash-free-potomac-watershed-initiative/potomac-river-watershed-cleanup or http://www.accotink.org/PotomacWatershedCleanuppre-event2013.htm.

January 2013 Litter Presentation to the Federation Board by Elizabeth (Betsy) Martin of the MVCCA

  • Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make a presentation on the MVCCA litter action plan to your board.
  • I did a little more research on some of the questions you raised, esp. about a bag bill. My main source of information is staff at theAlice Ferguson Foundation, the organization that sponsors the Potomac Watershed cleanups and whose staff are knowledgeable about all things litter.
    1. Why put a fee on paper as well as plastic bags?

      The reason for putting a fee on both paper and plastic bags is that it incentives people to bring reusable bags. Paper bags are also more expensive for businesses than plastics ones, so by only putting a fee on plastic there would be pressure on businesses to switch to a more expensive bag that they would then give customers for free, instead of charging a nominal fee for both. Plus, both end up as litter, though the plastic bags take longer to degrade.

    2. What about research suggesting that if plastic bags are reused, they will be unsanitary due to bacterial contamination from previous use?

      There was a study released that showed that reusable bags could breed disease. It was funded by the industry. It was a small sample size and had very exaggerated and unrealistic conditions. The bacteria was physically placed on the bags, which it normally wouldn't come in contact with raw meat because you can still get the plastic bags for free to carry raw meat. All the bills that have been written so far do not apply to produce bags, bulk items, or meat. You can even get a free plastic bag at check-out to put your meat product in so it doesn't contaminate your food. Plus, we wash our aprons and cutting boards, and you can wash the bags too.

    Alice Ferguson has seen big drop in plastic bag litter (about 50%) in their cleanups in areas where a bag bill has been adopted. I am attaching a fact sheet about the bag bill that was introduced in the Virginia House that summarizes information about effectiveness of bag bills.

December 2012 Membership Presentation:

Home Energy Conservation

The December meeting will focus on home energy with two presentations:

  • Susan Hafeli, Fairfax County Utility Analyst, will discuss the Energy Action Fairfax program. Susan managed the County’s $9.6 million federal stimulus energy grant which included conducting energy audits in a number of communities in Fairfax County including several Federation Member associations.
    She is a Utility Analyst in Fairfax County’s Department of Cable and Consumer Services. Susan has taken the lead on the County’s residential energy education and outreach program, staffs the County’s inter-departmental Energy Efficiency and Conservation Coordinating Committee, and has spent the last several years managing the County’s $9.6 million federal stimulus energy grant. In addition, with Board approval, Susan participates in state public-utility regulatory proceedings to help ensure that the interests of the County’s residential customers are protected. Prior to joining the County, Susan practiced utility law in Texas and the District.
  • Philip Haddix, Project Manager from The Solar Foundation, will present Solar Powering Your Community: Impediments to Residential Solar in Virginia. Philip will discuss the advantages and impediments to residential solar energy in Virginia.
    He manages The Solar Foundation’s projects and performs research in support of new and existing initiatives. In particular, Philip is active in executing the foundation’s duties under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership program and provides research and management support on several labor market and schools-based projects. Philip’s prior professional experiences in the energy and environmental arena include stints with the Sierra Club/Blue Green Alliance and the Solar Energy Industries Association. He holds a Masters of Public Affairs from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University with concentrations in Energy and Environmental Policy and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of West Georgia. Philip has also been accredited as a LEED Green Associate by the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • Together the two presentations will give us a vision of what we and the county can do to reduce energy costs and what we can do to solar power our neighborhoods.

December 2012 Environmental Committee Report

  • Introduction to Water Quality Regulations Effecting Urban Trees – December 6
    The Northern Virginia Urban Forestry held their 4th Quarterly Roundtable in Herndon. The topic was an Introduction to Water Quality Regulations Affecting Urban Trees. The speakers were:
    • Bruce McGranahan from Land Development Services, Fairfax County. Bruce spoke on New Virginia Stormwater Regulations. The phosphate limit for Virginia is 0.41 lb/ac/year. The new regulations will go live on July 1, 2014. From the County’s perspective the State has delegated authority to issue Virginia Stormwater Management Permit authority to the Counties. The Commonwealth (and the Federal EPA through the County’s MS4 permit) will hold the County responsible for meeting the pollution goals. One major change is that the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) will require that the 1” storm is considered in evaluating the performance of controls – not the major storms that have been the focus previously.
    • Joan Salvati from the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Joan spoke on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL ‘Pollution Diet’. The take home message is that once DCR started looking at the modeling that EPA used to set the TMDL they realized that their data was way out of date. They modeled based on how the County was years ago and now the amount of impervious surfaces is much greater than it was in the model. The stormwater management controls were also out of date so one of the major efforts that the County needs to do is to develop a good inventory of all the stormwater management Best Management Practices (BMPs) being used in the County and keep up the list every year. There was a question about rumors about the Bay TMDL program being taken over by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). DEQ currently handles the point source TMDL program but DCR handles the area source TMDL programs. The explanation is that if DEQ takes over the areas source TMDL program they will also be taking over the personnel.
    • Buck Kline from the Virginia Department of Forestry who spoke on Forest Land Conservation. Mr. Kline was concerned that the regulations don’t give credit for reducing forest loss. He also mentioned that the Forestry department has a simple on-line calculator that can be used to calculate the value of the trees on any property at inforest.frec.vt.edu.
    • After the presentations Jim McGlone with the Virginia Department of Forestry facilitated a discussion about how to use the information about the TMDL to encourage planting and saving trees. Mr. McGlone also discussed the need to track new tree plantings. Anyone how has a new tree planting project should send information about the planting to the DoF. They will need the number of trees, the number of volunteers involved with the planting, the number of volunteer hours, the location of the plantings and the date.
    • After lunch there was a discussion about future projects. There were a number of projects that were discussed they fell roughly into two broad categories: the need to educate and the need to gather accurate data about tree cover and the tree inventory. One project that will be of particular interest to the Federation is the need to educate Home Owner Associations on the importance of and proper maintenance of trees. Another effort will be to educate landscaping companies on the proper way to plant new trees and how to pick good tree stock.

  • USGS Lecture: Bird’s Eye View: Offshore Wind Energy – December 5
    I attended the USGS Public Lecture Series. The subject was Birds at Sea and Offshore Wind Energy. The speakers were Alicia Berlin and Allan O’Connell. The upshot of their research so far is that there is not enough information about the migration patterns of sea birds to determine that off shore wind generators will not interfere with their migration patterns. However, the Bureau of Ocean Energy is very actively researching the issue and are using the information as soon as it is collected when evaluating possible offshore wind lease areas. The plan is to not allow leases in areas frequently visited by sea birds. The problem is that sea birds are so far out at sea that they are not seen by land-based birders.

  • Planning Commission Environmental Committee – November 29
    At the November 29th Planning Commission Environmental Committee they approved the Green Building Comprehensive Plan Policy Guidance. The Committee is considering expanding the policy developed for the Tysons Corner Urban Center should be expanded to other parts of the County. The Committee could also not reach a consensus on whether and how to deal with pubic-private partnerships.

  • Westchester house in the RPA – November 28
    I met with the homeowner next to the Westchester Drive property that is going to be built entirely in the Long Branch of the Accotink. The developer mistakenly cut down a tree tin the neighbor’s yard and the neighbor wanted the developer to save a maple that was scheduled to be cut down as compensation for the tree that was mistakenly taken down but there was a question about the viability of the tree. We met with the County arborist to evaluate the tree. The arborist noticed that the tree had been split through and had healed. The County arborist felt that the tree was not safe due to the split and would have recommended that it be taken down before the house could be occupied in any event.

  • Friends of Accotink Creek – November 19
    Attended the Friends of Accotink Creek meeting. There was a presentation by Vivian Morgan-Mendez and Fernando Mendez of Friends of Nottoway. They discussed the 12-year successful battle to save Nottoway woods from ball field expansion. The group is now turning their attention to solving erosion problems in the woods. Other issues that were discussed were:
    • Metro West construction sediment control violations.
    • Eleven Oaks Development and how to track sediment controls.
    • Developing a way to track major development projects so we can keep an eye on sediment controls better.
    • Developing a program to update civic associations on the progress on watershed management plans.
    • Katie Keating’s Girl Scout Gold project to replace an information kiosk. And
    • A video production of stream cleanup.

  • Winterize Your Home – November 10
    The City of Fairfax held an event to help residents get ready for winter. There were vendors to talk about energy audits, sealing and caulking, insulation, windows and doors, chimneys, HVAC systems, and thermostats.

  • Green Breakfast – November 10
    The topic for the 59th Green Breakfast was Conservation Practices for All Landscapes: From Your Downspout to the Chesapeake Bay. Lily Whitesell from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) discussed measures homeowners can take to help the Bay.
    Five things to know are:
    1. Know your nearest stream
    2. Is there a Resource Protection Area in your yard? See http://fairfaxcounty.gov/gisapps/myneighborhood/myndefault.aspx.
    3. What is the topography? Where does the water flow into and from your property?
    4. Are there problem spots? Does water collect or pond and stay there for a week after a rain?
    5. What is the soil like? See http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/soilsinfo.htm.
    And the 5 things to do are:
    1. Prevent pollution. Pick up the trash in your yard.
    2. Rain barrels, cisterns or downspout diversions. The NVSWCD has rain barrel workshops periodically and has some re-purposed pickle barrels.
    3. Use conservation landscaping. Plant more plants. They recommended the tree benefit calculator http://www.treebenefits.com/calculator/mapselect.cfm.
    4. Rain gardens and soil amendments. Mulch in your grass clippings and fall leaves to add organic matter to your soil and help the soil retain moisture.
    5. Use permeable driveways, walkways and patios. Before you re-surface your drive way consider replacing it with porous pavers.

  • Upcoming Meetings
    • December 12, 12:30 – 3:30 pm – Remove Invasive Alien Plant Species in Americana Park. For more information see http://www.accotink.org/cgi-bin/cal.pl?ACTION=VIEWDAY&Year=2012&Month=12&Date=12&config=calendar.cfg.
    • December 13, 7:30 – 10 pm – Fairfax Federation Environmental Membership meeting, Hidden Oaks Nature Center, 7701 Royce Street, Annandale, VA 22003. Topics: Energy Action Fairfax by Susan Hafeli, Fairfax County Utility Analyst and Solar Powering Your Community by Philip Haddix from the Solar Foundation.
    • December 17, 7 – 9 pm – Monthly Meeting of Friends of Accotink Creek. Audrey Moore Rec Center, 8100 Braddock Rd., Annandale, VA 22003. For more information see http://www.accotink.org/cgi-bin/cal.pl.
    • December 19, 12:30 – 3:30 pm – Remove invasive Kudzu vines in Lake Accotink Park. For more information see http://www.accotink.org/cgi-bin/cal.pl?ACTION=VIEWDAY&Year=2012&Month=12&Date=19&config=calendar.cfg.
    • December 26, 12:30 – 3:30 pm – Remove invasive Kudzu vines in Lake Accotink Park. For more information see http://www.accotink.org/cgi-bin/cal.pl?ACTION=VIEWDAY&Year=2012&Month=12&Date=26&config=calendar.cfg.
    • December 29, 8:30 am – 4 pm – Virginia Invasive Plant Symposium. Middleburg Community Center, 300 West Washington Street, Middleburg, VA. To register see http://www.pecva.org/index.php/events.
    • January 7, 7:30 pm on - Environmental Quality Advisory Council public hearing. This is an early notice for the Environmental Quality Advisory Council’s (EQAC) annual public hearing on the environment. EQAC is appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to advise on environmental matters. The public is encouraged to attend EQAC’s public hearing to share views on the state of the environment and to identify environmental issues applicable to Fairfax County. EQAC welcomes written and/or verbal testimony. Board Auditorium Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, OR South County Center, Room 221A (Woodlawn), 83502 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA. For more information see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/eqac/.
    • January 12, 8:30 – 10 am. 60th Green Breakfast, Brion’s Grille, 10621 Braddock Road, Fairfax, VA 22032. Topic Kevin Munroe, Manager of Huntley Meadows Park will talk about the Huntley Meadows wetland restoration project. For more information see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/announcements.htm.
    • January 13, 7 – 9 pm – Sierra Club/Great Falls Group Program, Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Avenue, East, Vienna, VA. Topic: Natural Gas Hydrofracking. For more information e-mail Susan Bonney at sbonney001@aol.com.
    • February 13 – Tree Stewards training starts. See http://treestewards.org.
    • February 26 – Master Naturalist training program starts. The training includes 40 hours of training meeting on Mondays. For more information see http://www.virginiamasternaturalist.org/fairfax.html#training.

September 2012 Environmental Committee Report

  • Stormwater Management Ordinance Meeting – September 24
    I attended the first meeting of the stromwater management ordinance planning. The interested parties were divided into four working sessions. Because of the large number of interested parties there were two working groups dealing with Single Family Exemptions and Infill Development. The other working groups dealt with Stormwater Facility Inspections by Owners, and Nutrient Credit Offsets/Impacts on Pro Rata Share Program. The main focus on the Single Family Exemption and Infill Development session that I attended was on whether disturbances of less than 2500 ft2 should be exempt in all cases or whether there the exemption threshold should be expanded to 5,000 ft2 for areas outside an Resource Protection Area (the Chesapeake Bay Ordinance sets the limit inside the RPA to 2500 ft2) and then the applicant could be allowed to disturb more area based on special controls they put in place and the conditions of the site such as the soil conditions, the local hydrology and downstream conditions. I advocated for the lower limit. The next meeting is scheduled for October 17th.
  • Friends of Accotink Creek (FAcC) Meetings – September 17th, August 20th and July 16th
  • Fall International Coastal Cleanup: Cleanups are planned at 21 locations in Fairfax County organized by Cleanup Virginia (www.cleanupvirginia.org) started September 15th. The Friends of Accotink Creek are organizing 15 of the proposed cleanup locations and would like to not only supply bags and gloves but have people on the stream to provide information about the steam – pointing out erosion problems, invasive species and hazards such as poison ivy.
  • Solar Powering Your Community – September 17th
    I attended the Solar Powering Your Community workshop in Richmond. The purpose of the meeting was to help local community leaders understand the regulatory and building code issues involved with installing solar collectors in local communities.
    There were presentations about the Federal and state regulations involved with installing solar energy in local communities and how the differences in State laws affect the percentage of energy that comes from solar energy. One of the most important factors is whether the State has renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) for power generation (Virginia does not). Another important factor is whether the State encourages third party power purchase agreements. In the third party power purchase agreement model, a power provider installs the solar collector equipment and incurs the capital costs up front with the customer signing a contract to pay a fixed cost for power from the provider. The power purchaser such as a big-box store would get cost certainty while the supplier can take advantage of tax credits sell Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) required by states with RPSs and can amortize the capital costs over the duration of the contract. Unfortunately, Dominion has sued the power purchase companies because they have a monopoly. But a single government entity, company or homeowner could incur the capital costs themselves and then use the power for their personal use and in fact run the meter backwards when power is generated in excess of what is needed.
    There were also presentations about the building permit requirements for solar installations and the financial considerations.
    The workshop was sponsored by the Department of Energy. For more information about the Workshop see www.solaramericacommunities.energy.gov/cities. The people putting together the workshop has indicated a desire to set up a similar workshop in Northern Virginia and I suggested that the Federation could help facilitate that effort.
  • Construction of a new home in the Accotink Resource Protection Area – September 8th to 18th
    I have been helping a neighbor review the construction plans for a new home that will be constructed entirely in the Resource Protection Area (RPA) for the extreme upper portion of the Long Branch of the Accotink. I first learned about the plans to build the house in the RPA on Saturday morning on the 8th. It turns our that if the construction is being done in a lot that was established prior to the delineation of the RPA there is a process that can permit the construction without having any public hearings which is the case for this particular property. On September 19th we met at the site and reviewed the plans with the County, the developer and Mike Wing from Supervisor Smyth’s office. Reviewing the tree survey it appears that there was a tree that was removed that was actually on the neighbor’s property. We also learned that there is a requirement that the construction plan include an analysis of the “overland relief” – essentially a determination of how deep the water will get if the primary outfall were to be blocked. In the case of this particular property the water would be 12-14 feet deep before it would eventually make it over the W&OD. There are also currently erosion problems both on the subject property and down-stream in the Stonewall Manor development but there is no requirement for the builder of a single house to mitigate for existing inadequate capacity problems. With policies like this it would be impossible to meet the flow limits in the new Accotink Creek Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standard.
  • Northern Virginia Urban Forestry Quarterly Roundtable – Benefits of Urban Trees: Economic and Social – September 13th
    I attended the Northern Virginia Urban Forestry Quarterly Roundtable in Alexandria. The topic for this roundtable was the economic and social benefits of urban trees. There were presentations about by Steve Colman from the Washington DC Parks and People who discussed the successes they have had re-vitalizing DC city parks by planting trees and establishing community gardens. There was also a presentation by Josh Brown (a former Fairfax County cop) about the security advantages of trees and the proper selection of tree species to cut down on crime by making public areas more vital and attractive to law abiding citizens.
  • Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC), Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) – September 11th
    Ana Prodos attended the September MWAQC TAC meeting.
    Ozone Season Summary: Nine exceedances of the ozone (O3) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). The number of exceedance days compared to the number of 90°F+ days continues to go down due to emission reductions. This is a key indicator of the successfulness of regulations reducing emissions of O3 precursors. Ozone creation is assisted by high temperatures so when the number of exceedances is less than the number of 90°F+ days it means that the emission reductions are working.
    The Council of Government emission goals exceed the 35.5 gallons per mile 2016 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. There is a shortfall of about 3%. The new CAFE standard calculation already assumes increased electric vehicle use.
  • Green Breakfast – Fairfax’s Energy Triangle - September 8th
    I attended the Green Breakfast about Fairfax’s Energy Triangle. The Energy Triangle is the Lorton area. The presentation was made by Conrad Mehan from Envirosolutions, Inc. Envirosolutions has a construction debris landfill that will soon be full. The plan is to place wind turbines, collect landfill gas to give to the County’s turbine generator. The power generated could be sold to the nearby Covanta plant which then would sell it to the grid (circumventing the Dominion Power’s Monopoly). They could also put solar collectors on the closed construction debris land fill to generate additional power. One advantage of coupling wind power generation with solar power generation is that it turns out that the wind is usually greater when the sun is not shining so by coupling the two you get a more stable energy source.
  • Upcoming Meetings
    • October 17th – Second session of the Stormwater Management Ordinance Workshops. Topics to be discussed are Stormwater Facilities in Residential Areas (two workgroups), Adequate Outfall Requirements, and Restrictions on the Use of Certain BMPs. The meetings will be from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM in the Herrity Building. For more information see the County web site at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/stormwaterordinance.htm.
    • October 18 – Northern Virginia Conservation Trust Workshop. Topics to be covered are: Protecting your land with Conservation easements, Creating and enhancing wildlife habitats, and Protecting your soil and water resources. Fairfax County Government Center, Conference Rooms 9-10, 12000 Government Center Parkway, 6:30 – 8:30 pm. For additional information see www.workshop.nvct.org or call 703-354-5093 x24.

September 2011 Membership Presentation:

Conservation: From Backyard to Community

George Lamb was appointed as a Director of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District to fill the seat of the late Sally Ormsby in 2009. Over the past two years he’s learned much about practical conservation and realized that very few people have the opportunity or experience to practice conservation. He spends weekends fighting invasive plants in his backyard and chasing his two daughters. He is also Vice Chair of the Fairfax County Environmental Quality Advisory Council (EQAC), which is appointed by the Board of Supervisors to advise them on environmental issues across the County. By training, George is a computer scientist and works for Cisco Systems in Herndon.

Conservation in the United States has a long and proud tradition. One hundred and seven years ago, John Muir convinced Teddy Roosevelt to go camping in the Yosemite Valley. Over three days he lobbied the President to create a national park to preserve the valley and a stand of giant redwoods. In the 1930’s great dust storms that ravaged the Midwest had moved east and “blotted out the sun over the nation’s capital and drove grit between the teeth of New Yorkers.” Thus was born the Soil Conservation Districts that restored conservation on our farm lands. Today we live and work in very different ways then John Muir and the 1930’s farmers, yet we inhabit the same lands as they did. In this talk we’ll discuss what it means to be a 21st century conservationist in Fairfax County, what is being done to advance the Fairfax County environmental agenda, and how to participate in an urban conservation ethic.

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