LCSC Ad Leesburg Today 8 April 2011
If you have seen our Ad in Leesburg Today, you may wonder ‘Exactly what IS the connection between what my family does at home, the quality of the water in county streams and the water we drink?’ and ‘Why should I show support for the draft Chesapeake Bay Ordinance?’ As far as you know, the tap water is fine with no reported problems. But there is more to the quality of your water than meets the eye and taste buds.
First consider that every drop of water you get from the tap has been on a long journey that began when it fell to the ground. Once it hits the ground or an impermeable surface such as a roof top or driveway, rain water will go one of four places: back into the air (evaporation); into the ground; along the top of the ground downhill to the nearest waterway or pond; or into gutters, storm drains or culverts and then to a stormwater pond or waterway such as a stream or river.
Next consider that water is an excellent solvent. It will pick up and carry both loose soil (sediment) and many chemicals such as the nitrogen and phosphorus compounds used in lawn and crop fertilizers. When surface water flows into creeks and streams it often carries these and many other pollutants such as bacteria from pet waste and motor oil from parking lots and driveways.
‘So what has this to do with me?’ you ask. The majority of families who get water piped into their homes are receiving water withdrawn from local reservoirs or the Potomac River which is filtered and treated before being pumped into the distribution system to your home. And this water came from where? The water draining from roofs, driveways and land to the west of your house. Right now you may be thinking either ‘Yuck – I am drinking water from someone’s lawn!’ or ‘Wow – my water company is doing a great job cleaning up the water before it gets to me’ and you would be correct in both cases.
What can be done to keep sediment and chemicals out of the water flowing into the creeks and river and keep water in County streams and the Potomac River cleaner?
‘Streamside buffers’ are one answer. Vegetated strips of land bordering waterways composed of trees, shrubs and grasses, with their miles of tiny roots hold soil in place, keep the ground permeable to water, and best of all, filter out pollutants of all kinds. These buffers work 24/7, need little maintenance, and have been shown to work very effectively at cleaning up water BEFORE it reaches streams and BEFORE it is taken out by water treatment plants. Protecting streamside buffers is a major part of the draft Chesapeake Bay Planning Ordinance (CBPO) that is currently before the Board of Supervisors for review. In spite of its title, the CBPO is first and foremost about cleaning up the water in Loudoun County streams and that is why the Stream Coalition wants your support for its approval. It is also true that cleaner streams in Loudoun County will also help clean up the water in the Potomac River and thus the water in the Chesapeake Bay.
‘Stewardship’ means that we are willing to do what we can at home, work and school, and as a County to filter out these pollutants so we can tell our neighbors downstream, ‘the muck stops here in Loudoun.’ While we are concerned first and foremost with the health of county streams and the waters they carry, the productivity of the Bay is greatly diminished due to increased amounts of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus coming in large part from suburban lawns, agricultural operations, and unfiltered runoff. With lower levels of these pollutants the Bay has a better chance of generating the seafood, income and tax revenue that we used to depend upon in Virginia and other Bay states.
Will cleaner water in the streams keep water rates down for my family?
When you pay your water bill you pay for the delivery of treated water to your home and the cost of the treatment. Dirtier water requires more time, chemicals, equipment and related costs to bring it up to water quality standards for drinking water. Therefore the cleaner the water reaching the treatment plant the less costly it is to treat and the lower the water rates that you pay.
So in a nutshell: Rain falls. Rain flows to streams. Streamside buffers help clean up pollution picked up by rainwater. Cleaner water flows in streams to reservoirs and the Potomac River. Cleaner water means less time and money to provide drinking water and water rates remain lower. The Bay is cleaner, more productive and generates more tax revenue which benefits ALL citizens in Virginia.
We hope that this has helped you to understand how this issue affects you, your family, and in fact all of us here in Loudoun County. We all have a stake in ensuring clean water. We all drink the water and you can help keep it cleaner.
Please take a moment to read the posts on this website that explain:
- The recent changes made to the draft ordinance that let affected homeowners build play areas and put tool sheds in their back yards without extra red tape, cost or permitting;
- The facts of what the CBPO requires versus the misinformation and myths put forth by groups opposing the ordinance; and