To the editor:
My name is Amarantha Flachs-Hernandez and I am an eighth grade student at George Washington Middle School. Last year, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality granted the City of Alexandria $2.5 million for its efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and restore the Taylor Run stream located in Chinquapin Park. However, I do not believe the city is using this money responsibly.
The city’s plan follows the idea of the natural channel design, which is meant to reduce pollutants like phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment from erosion. The problem is that this technique is mainly used on wide rivers and not on narrow, headwater streams like Taylor Run.
To accomplish this design, hundreds of trees will be cut and the stream will be buried under tons of fill. This will kill many animals, damage a rare acidic seepage wetland that contains 25 rare plant species and increase the amount of erosion. The city has said it will be planting thousands of new trees and shrubs, but even so, it will take many decades to restore the forest. If the city really wants to prevent erosion, it should control the storm water coming from upstream of the park.
In relation to the other pollutants and the amount of sediment, the stream water appears to be clean because of its clarity and the considerable amount of aquatic life found in it. However, the city continues to say the water is polluted while relying on computer models inaccurate for this purpose and refusing to test the water.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. The Potomac Yard Metro station was built in a forested wetland that resulted in a loss of acres of irreplaceable forested wetlands. It is hypocritical of the city to label Alexandria “eco-friendly,” while it destroys our forests and wetlands one by one. The VDEQ grant and $2.2 million of tax dollars will be misused if the city goes through with the Taylor Run restoration project.
Destroying our forest will not help protect the Chesapeake Bay.
-Amarantha Flachs- Hernandez, 8th grader, G.W. Middle School