To the editor:
On March 5, the city sent us a letter stating why it intends to pursue its proposed Taylor Run reconstruction project, despite the fact that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will be changing its guidelines for assessing pollution reduction levels that can be achieved from stream restoration projects.
On March 15, we responded to Yon Lambert, director of the city’s Department of Transportation & Environmental Services, explaining why we continue to believe the Taylor Run project should not go forward. Here is a summary of our response:
• Reengineering the stream will harm the adjacent rare seepage swamp and many Alexandria-rare plant species, according to the city’s own botanist. It will also eliminate a large swath of forest canopy from the park for decades.
• The city’s estimate of the pollution reduction values is orders of magnitude too high and was not determined using best practices.
• The city has misread the tree planting proposal we submitted in January. The new Virginia Department of Environmental Quality guidelines show that tree planting is a competitive way to achieve Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction credits. The city should ask its city arborist to develop a planting plan for the city to consider.
• The “restoration” technique proposed by the city is frequently destructive and ineffective, as it was in Alexandria’s Strawberry Run just 10 years ago.
• The city should continue to look for ways to reduce the flow of stormwater into Taylor Run.
• Maintenance of the sewer lines that cross Taylor Run is actually unrelated to the project. It can and will be done anyway.
For these and other reasons, the City of Alexandria needs to call a halt to this destructive project before it needlessly causes an environmental tragedy.
-Russell Bailey, Jeremy Flachs, Carter Flemming, Andrew Macdonald, Alexandria