To the editor:
This is Alexandria’s continuing story of three watershed streams: Strawberry Run, Taylor Run and Lucky Run. It shows how our actions can produce the best possible health for the Chesapeake Bay’s animals, plants and water for all. It is a simple story.
Science agrees that the Bay’s health is well-defined by measuring just three things: phosphorous, nitrogen and soil sediment, and the lowest amounts possible are highly desired. Like all our streams, these three empty into the Chesapeake watershed.
The Bay struggles to recover from an overload causing declines in crabs, oysters and oxygenating seagrass. Therefore, it is critical for all of Alexandria’s streams to show low amounts for each measure, especially when compared to governments’ standards, largely determined by farm not city water runoff. Soil sampling from each of the local sites, not the disallowed default figure, is the best practice for determining both pollution credits and grant awards.
In the case of our three streams, recent scientific sampling and analysis indicated that all three streams perform much better than government standards. It’s become easy to see that these well-performing streams should not be disturbed until we find proven less destructive and more cost-effective ways to “Save the Bay.”
If our first priority is to save the bay, how we get there should be as fast and direct as we can make it. The same analysis was done for all three, but only two were halted, while one was given the go ahead. This denies the importance of what we know and limits the best we can do. Rolling in peripheral issues such as sewage and infrastructure is not supported by this program and not appropriately addressed by credits or grants.
Fortunately, City Council directed staff to find alternatives that can be used throughout the watershed. The Environmental Council of Alexandria has already identified proven and viable options: let’s adapt them to fit Strawberry, Taylor and Lucky runs.
The chance of saving the pollution credits and grants for one small project is not enough to delay efforts to save the bay. We are confident that city staff’s good relations with their credits and grants colleagues will not suffer from removing Lucky Run under its submitted metrics.
Alexandria’s highest priority in this three-stream program is to use it to save the bay. Right now, the best action is “don’t disturb.” Council has set the stage for better solutions. Let’s find the best one, very soon. Alexandria’s watershed and the Chesapeake Bay deserve it, and we can do it.
-Kathryn Papp, Alexandria