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.

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

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.

$300 Million Chesapeake Bay Bond Stalls in Virginia House

Source:  dailypress.com
Written by:  Cory Nealon
February 9, 2012

Virginia lawmakers declined to back a $300 million bond package that would fund wastewater treatmet plant improvements in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.   The bond, which passed unanimously in the Senate, hit a wall Wednesday in the House of Delegates.  An Appropriations subcommittee voted to shelve the matter until next year.

The decision is a setback for environmental groups, localities, sewer authorities and others that want to use bonds to help pay for upgrades that would reduce nitrogen and phosphorus discharges in the bay and its tributaries.

The legislation springs from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 15-year effort to restore water quality in the bay, where algae blooms, fish kills, and beach closures occur every year.

The EPA directed six watershed states, including Virginia and the District of Columbia, to devise ways to reduce pollution.  In addition to targeting wastewater treatment plants, states are clamping down on agricultural operations, stormwater runoff and other sources.

Read more . . .
http://www.dailypress.com/news/science/dead-rise-blog/dp-300-million-chesapeake-bay-bond-stalls-in-virginia-house-20120209,0,7285446.story

Study: Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Could Create 230,000 jobs

Source:  WTOP.com   Written by:  Dick Uliano
http://www.wtop.com/?nid=41&sid=2690692

WASHINGTON  — Environmentalists devoted to restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay say cleaning the bay not only will produce more crabs and oysters, but also create almost a quarter of a million jobs.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a report on Tuesday that is aimed at “debunking the myth” that environmental regulations kill jobs.  “If you look across Maryland, Virginia, the other Chesapeake Bay states, it’s predicted that 230,000 jobs will be created to help reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay,” says Will Baker, foundation president.  “It’s a cynical myth that cleaning up the water and the air kills jobs.”

The projections include engineering and construction jobs and also rely on a multiplier effect — jobs created as a result of increased economic activity based on the improvements.

In December 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maryland, Virginia, four other states and D.C. to reduce pollution flow into the bay by 25 percent by 2025.

But with the economy slumping and the unemployment rate high, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., warned in a memo last August that environmental regulations are hampering job creation.

A 2001 study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Michael Greenstone found that two decades of clean air amendments aimed at polluting plants caused a loss of 600,000 jobs.

But the foundation’s report, “Debunking the ‘Job Loss’ Myth,” says Chesapeake Bay cleanup and monitoring jobs increased by 43 percent across the region between 1990 and 2009.

Virginia and Maryland are expected to invest as much as $3 billion over the next 15
years building and upgrading 147 sewage treatment plants.  Construction also is underway on stormwater pollution control devices that catch and filter rain water.

Montgomery County is spending $305 million on such systems to limit pollution into the
bay.  “These are programs which require good technology to be put in place, they have to create jobs,” Baker says.