Streamside Buffers – YES! CBPO is a Must for Loudoun!

The following article was submitted by Joe Coleman, President of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

For over a year now, Loudoun County has been working on an ordinance to protect our streams by preserving vegetated streamside buffers.  Vegetated streamside buffers, or riparian buffers as they are also known, are strips of grass, shrubs, and ideally trees and shrubs along the banks of rivers and streams.  They serve as a buffer between our uses of the land and the water itself, and are the last line of defense for water quality.  To understand how a buffer works imagine drinking a cup of coffee made without a filter or Continue reading

Flawed Analysis of County’s Scientific Study Presented by Stream Protection Opponents

Leesburg Today has reported on an analysis provided to the Board of Supervisors by a group opposed to Loudoun’s stream protection initiative.  The analysis was performed by a retired statistician, Dr. Jerry Coffey.  When reviewed side-by-side with the County-commissioned report by Versar, Inc. and Biohabitats, Inc. the analysis is revealed to be one more unfounded criticism attempting to discredit the County’s stream protection initiative. Statements about the County’s study include page references that inaccurately reflect the actual information in the report.  Further, the critique intermingles and confuses the various and independent types of monitoring performed by the County’s consultants, exposing the author’s apparently limited grasp of the subject matter.  And the references that detail quality control procedures accompanying the report have been ignored.

It could be that simple lack of understanding has led to the flawed conclusions. However, the analysis also raises doubts about the professional competence of staff, injecting controversy where none exists.  And the author takes the extreme step of contemplating fraud as a darker reason for the conclusions in the scientific study.

Could this possibly be a deliberate witch hunt?

Board Votes to Eliminate Controversial “Yellow Map”

On Tuesday, February 15th,  the Board of Supervisors started working through a matrix of 42 issues to determine the final version of the proposed Loudoun stream protections known as the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (CBPO).  When the Board is finished, County staff will revise the draft based on the Board decisions and advertise it before the final decision to adopt.

In its first vote (9-0), the Board chose to eliminate the “yellow map,” the draft screening tool which was misconstrued by opponents to raise fear about the impacts on residents without a perennial stream nearby. Eliminating this widely misunderstood map takes away the fear of uncertainty that many who do not live by a perennial stream have had.  The Board action demonstrates a strong commitment to answering homeowner concerns.

In other good news, the Board voted to provide key exemptions for homeowners whose lots contain the 100 ft stream buffer area known as RPA.  These few homeowners (1,675 out of over 80,000 across the entire county) now have a cumulative exemption for up to 150 square feet of structures (e.g. sheds), located within the 100 ft buffer area.  In addition, Supervisors voted to exempt playsets up to 500 square feet in the RPA area, while clearly defining what constitutes a playset.  Fences are already exempt when constructed in the usual fashion with a space below the bottom edge. Continue reading

Joint Letter to Board of Supervisors

On February 1st, the Board of Supervisors will begin review of Loudoun’s proposed streamside protection ordinance, known as the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (CBPO).  Following the recent stakeholder process, some stakeholder representatives and members of the environmental community signed onto a letter that was submitted to the Loudoun Board of Supervisors regarding the outcome of the stakeholder process and recommendations for the environmental components of the Ordinance.  Along with  the letter, the groups submitted a matrix of issues and comments for additional consideration.

The Supervisors have asked for a variety of information from the staff as they begin their review.  A timeline for the process has not yet been announced.

What is the Virginia State “Dirty Waters” List?

Every two years the State publishes a report listing Virginia streams and other water bodies which do not meet national water quality standards.  A stream does not meet standards when it fails to be suitable for the six uses designated for surface waters:

  • aquatic life
  • fish consumption
  • public water supplies (where applicable)
  • shellfish consumption
  • swimming
  • wildlife Continue reading

More Myths & Facts

10 Myths

About Loudoun’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance (CBPO)


1. Myth: The CBPO requires a 100 foot “no disturb” buffer on each side of most anything that resembles a drainage ditch, turning thousands of unsuspecting suburban backyards into “no disturb areas.”

Fact: The key word to remember is “perennial.”  Any water body, stream, ditch, or lake which has perennial or year-round flow through it, is to have 100 feet of protected area on either side called the Resource Protection Area (RPA). CBPO, Section 1222.05 (b).  Most people know if their property has a stream or ditch with year-round flow in it. Continue reading