Regarding Storm Water Program
We read with interest your June article, “Charlottesville Storm Water Utility Fee Won’t Help Save the Bay (Part One: The Problem)” by Marlene A. Condon. We want to share the perspective of our Storm Water Management Program in Fairfax County and our reasons for challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s Accotink Creek flow TMDL. Although we felt it necessary to challenge the Accotink Creek flow TMDL, we did so because we believe that it would not achieve the intended results, and would in fact undermine our efforts to garner public support for improving storm water management.
On July 12, 2012, the Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova, said, “Fairfax County has demonstrated a strong and unwavering commitment to water quality and environmental stewardship. We are absolutely committed to maintaining and improving, water quality in Fairfax County and the Chesapeake Bay. However, we believe that regulations, whether federally or state imposed, must effectively address the targeted problem and be fiscally sound and realistic.” The media release about the lawsuit may be seen here: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/2012/updates/fairfax-sues-epa-to-challenge-stormwater-rule.htm
Readers may know that TMDL stands for Total Maximum Daily Load. This is a very specific regulatory term in the Clean Water Act that describes the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive and still meet water quality standards. Fairfax County did not agree with EPA’s flow approach to the TMDL because it would have done nothing to stabilize or reverse the evolution that has already occurred in Accotink Creek. This evolution has taken place in response to increased urbanization and development in the watershed, and flow reduction alone will not reverse its impacts or address the impairment that originally triggered development of the TMDL. Stream restoration is also required in order to stabilize the eroded banks, reconnect the stream to its floodplain, reduce in-stream erosion and restore habitat. Fairfax County maintains that the restoration of urban streams requires a much more comprehensive approach than regulating just one contributing factor. We agree that storm water is the responsibility of all and that everyone needs to help manage the runoff from their property. To that end, we provide considerable public information, and have developed an award winning public education program in partnership with science teachers in Fairfax County schools.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has demonstrated a fiscal commitment to improve local water quality and help clean the Chesapeake Bay. In 2010 the Board established a dedicated storm water tax district that generates $40 million annually. The county utilizes this funding to implement projects that improve water quality, reduce storm water runoff and restore segments of local streams. We believe we have a proactive and comprehensive approach to managing our urban storm water as demonstrated in the 2012 Fairfax County Storm Water Status report. The report may be seen at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/publications/stormwater/2012_stormwater_status_report_final.pdf
The report demonstrates our understanding of and commitment to the “moral duty to preserve natural resources,” entrusted to us by the residents of Fairfax County.
Randy Bartlett, P.E.
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, Fairfax County
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