Rappahannock River Sediment Around Fredericksburg Leads to Concerns

As of April 2012, the City of Fredericksburg, VA was negotiating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the scope and budget of a study of the Rappahannock River’s build-up of sediment, which continues to hinder aquatic life, raise concerns that it could make floods worse, and impair the use of the city’s riverboat.  Even though about 300,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediment was removed prior to the breaching of Embrey Dam (upstream of the city) in 2004, the sediment problem around the city seems to have worsened since then and complaints have been raised that more sediment should have been removed along the dam.  Various local organizations, such as the Friends of the Rappahannock and the Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority, have identified river sediment as a problem.  Amidst these developments, a Stafford County man and his Tennessee partner have proposed a three-year plan to remove about one million cubic yards of sediment from a five-mile stretch of river, at no cost to the City.  The men propose to sell commercially valuable sand and gravel that would be included in the removed material.

Blog post by araflo April 25, 2012
Virginia Water Central News Grouper

PaveDrain System Passes ASTM C1701/C1701M-09

“WMA has reviewed your recent submittal and concurs that the results of recent independent testing conducted in accordance with ASTM C1701/C1701M-09 demonstrate that the PaveDrain® paver meets the surface permeability criterion.”

Based on the test results, it is our opinion that the infiltration rate of the PaveDrain System is a minimum of 4,000 inches per hour.

Inside Diameter of Infiltration Ring (in) 12.5 12.5
Elapsed Time of Test (sec) 7.3 7.8
Infiltration Rate (in/hr) (l=KM/(D2*t)) 4449.1 4163.9
Average Infiltration Rate (in/hr) 4306.5


O’Malley opts for more regressive ‘flush tax’

By Greg Masters, Published: March 10 in THE WASHINGTON POST
Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com

O’Malley opts for more regressive ‘flush tax’

O’Malley opts for more regressive ‘flush tax’

What Gov. Martin O’Malley billed as a 100 percent increaseto most Maryland residents’ “flush tax” would become a 150 percent increase under a new proposal his administration is discussing with lawmakers.Instead of a levy based on water consumption, O’Malley (D) is now pushing a flat fee that would be more regressive, hitting low-, middle- and high-income earners nearly equally.

The change marks a reversal for O’Malley, who in touting his original plan said it was unfair to make a widow in Baltimore pay the same amount as the owner of a mansion. But after hearing from business associations and other opponents, O’Malley concluded that his plan was unworkable.

The amended bill would increase the yearly cost of nearly every resident’s flush tax – which is used to restore the Chesapeake Bay – to $75 from $30. Households that receive public assistance, such as food stamps or supplemental security income, or otherwise qualify as low-income generally would be exempt from paying the fee.

It is the second of the governor’s tax proposals that he envisioned as progressive only to see it emerge from negotiations with legislators as an across-the-board increase.

In Senate budget committee negotiations, O’Malley’s plan to cap exemptions and deductions for high-income earners was reworked into a proposal to increase most filers’ income taxes by a quarter of a percent. The budget must go through the House of Delegates, where the progressive approach appears to have more support.

The setbacks for the governor underscore the practical and political obstacles he has faced in trying to craft a package of tax increases that would fall more heavily on the higher earners.

Another fee on residents could result from O’Malley’s plan to subsidize offshore wind power, with residential ratepayers potentially paying $2 more per month in 2017.

Combined, the flush tax and the wind subsidy would add nearly $100 in annual fees for most Marylanders.

Robert M. Summers, secretary of the Department of the Environment, said the push for a consumption-based flush tax was abandoned partly to assuage the concerns of businesses.

Summers said “a number of folks have raised concerns about the progressive fee being a little too impactful on small businesses” that use a large amount of water. The “complexity” of moving from a flat fee to a consumption-based fee was another factor in the change, he said.

Pitching his original plan to lawmakers in February, O’Malley said those who use the least amount of water could even see their flush tax decrease from its monthly flat rate of $2.50.

According to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, 11 percent of households in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties use fewer than 2,000 gallons of water per month, and those residents would have paid a monthly fee of $1.80 or less.

Under the original proposal, the 31 percent of households in those counties that use between 2,000 and 4,000 gallons monthly would have paid between $1.80 and $4.30 per month – still less than the flat monthly fee of $6.25 being considered.

And users of septic systems, which are not metered for water use, would have seen rates double to $5 per month. The new plan would put their rate, like everyone else’s, at $6.25 per month.

But heavy users would have paid significantly more under the original plan. The 12 percent of Prince George’s and Montgomery County households that use more than 8,000 gallons of water monthly would have paid at least $9.30 a month.

And many restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses would have seen their fees more than triple. According to legislative analysts, the original bill could have resulted in “a meaningful adverse impact” on them.

Summers said the increase in revenue that would be brought in under the revised plan is “not significantly more” than the one O’Malley originally sought. While the first plan sought to double revenue, the new one “will produce 2.5 times the revenue,” Summers said.

The proposed $6.25 is “just another $1.25″ over what a doubling of the current fee would be, Summers said, adding that the burden on higher water users and small businesses would be smaller because the fee would not be progressive.

O’Malley has said an increase to the flush tax is necessary to cover shortfalls in funding for upgrades to the state’s wastewater treatment plants. Summers said the extra $1.25, rather than being spent on those upgrades, would go toward street retrofitting to help municipalities meet federal mandates to reduce pollution runoff to the bay.

Minnesota Sealant Firm Take Stand VS. Pollution

Source:  Star Tribune
By:  David Shaffer
March 2, 2012

An Eagan-based company that is a national leader in driveway coating said Friday that it will stop using coal-tar-based sealants to help curb chemical pollution in stormwater ponds.

Jet-Black International said its franchisees in Minnesota and Wisconsin will switch to newly developed asphalt-based coatings by next year. The company said it also has recommended that its franchisees in 10 other states make the switch.

“We are concerned that continued use of coal-tar sealants will lead to unsustainable and costly pond clean-ups at the expense of the citizens of Minnesota,” the company said in a statement.

The company’s voluntary switch is a victory for pollution control officials, who have campaigned to end the use of coal-tar-based sealants, long an industry standard. An estimated 85 million gallons of the sealants are sold annually.

“They are doing the responsible thing,” said Tom Ennis, an engineer who works for the city of Austin, Texas, and tracks the issue on a blog called Coal Tar-Free America. “It is what we who have worked on the science have been waiting for. If the industry just looks at the facts and stops arguing, then real progress can happen.”

The Pavement Coatings Technology Council, a Virginia-based trade group for 20 manufacturers of the coatings, continues to dispute the science, contending that other sources such as wood smoke and exhaust are the real problem.

But environmental officials say the sealants break down, leaching into the environment a class of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), linked to cancer. Increasingly, officials say, PAHs are turning up in the sediment of stormwater ponds, boosting disposal costs when ponds are periodically dredged by cities.

Some large retailers, including Lowe’s and Home Depot, have stopped selling the coal-tar sealants. The state of Washington and Washington, D.C., have banned them, as have communities in several states, including 13 in Minnesota.

Jet-Black co-owner Nick Kelso said he became convinced that coal-tar products were a source of pollution after reviewing the science. He said the company, with 125 Minnesota employees and $5.2 million in sales last year, is the largest asphalt-maintenance company in the world.

“This debate is no longer about theories mired in political rhetoric from all sides,” Jet-Black said in a statement.

At its annual winter franchisee convention last week, Jet-Black heard no opposition to the change, Kelso said. New asphalt emulsions, which are not linked to pollution, have been improved, making them as durable as the coal-tar versions, he added.

DDOE Letter on Evaluation of Permeable Pavement Systems

Dear Mr. Bishop,

The District Department of Environment (DDOE) appreciates your interest in assisting us with meeting our water quality commitments under the District’s new Municipal Seperate Storm Sewage System (MS4) Permit. Permeable pavement systems are an important technology that the District is evaluating for greater use due to its ability to reduce stormwater pollution from entering our rivers and streams.

While DDOE can’t officially endorse a proprietary product, PaveDrain™ does appear to be a very promising solutions for the District. Particularly, the product’s apparent ease of installation that does not require certification for contractors and can be installed during any temperature, and the fact that PaveDrain™ can easily be removed and replaced for underground maintenance activities are especially appealing. These attributes would overcome problems that have been encountered by other permeable pavement solutions.

To meet the District’s water quality objectives, numerous technologies and design solutions will be required. I look forward to seeing PaveDrain™ and similar products installed and evaluated in the District to determine the best solutions to protect our waterways.

Jeffrey Seltzer, P.E.
Associate Director
Stormwater Management Division
District Department of Environment

DDOE Letter on Evaluation of Permeable Pavement Systems >