The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency solicited nominations earlier this year for citizens to serve on its Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee (SCAS), which is part of its Local Government Advisory Committee. Both committees advise the EPA on critical environmental issues impacting local governments. Albemarle County Board of Supervisors White Hall District representative Ann Mallek was selected to represent the mid-Atlantic region on the 19-member SCAS, and described her expectations of the committee’s mandate and her views on local environmental issues.
“The EPA’s Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee is a curious combination of local elected officials from all around the country supported by staff from the EPA and the administration. Our task is to provide feedback on federal policy development, changes, needed improvements to policy, and implementation,” said Mallek. As she has throughout her time in public service in Albemarle County, Mallek puts water quality issues at the forefront. “Clean water is such an essential, yet often neglected, element of health. We often don’t talk about this until it is late—Flint, Michigan, for example. Yet we, who live in areas where our drinking water is well cared for, should also learn about the subtle or hidden dangers to our water supply from chemicals.
“While they may not impact our protected watershed highly, many chemicals are not required to be tested, and our local behaviors impact water drinkers downstream. The health impacts often take a generation to be realized, with changes potentially to fertility or learning skills. I am always on the hunt for methods of success used by other local governments that I can bring home to Virginia and Albemarle.
“Watershed protection has been a special interest my whole adult life. White Hall District residents are particularly interested in the Sugar Hollow reservoir and the 110-year-old pipeline carrying mountain water to the city Observatory Treatment plant and now to fill the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. The balance of water withdrawal vs. release to downstream took 20 years to achieve and needs constant protection. Protection of the water quality in the Beaver Creek Reservoir is enhanced by the conservation easement on the north and west, yet encroaching residential development and their associated impacts may make changes in the future.”
Mallek is looking forward to learning from, and contributing to, the SCAS’s work. “The topics on the table at SCAS are all over the map, as needed by tribal governments or local governments in Dillon Rule states [such as Virginia]. It is a fascinating source of information.”