Eco-City Alexandria Kvetches about Accelerated Potomac Cleanup

Nasty! Oronoco Bay in eco-city Alexandria.

Nasty! Oronoco Bay in eco-city Alexandria. Image credit: Greater Greater Washington.

The City of Alexandria bills itself as an “eco-city.” In 2007, it published a “green-ventory” of environmental plans, policies and programs. In 2008, the city adopted an “eco-charter.” Since then, the city has launched initiatives to tackle invasive plants, expand the regional BikeShare program, bolster transit bus service, weatherize apartments of low-income Alexandrians, design LEED-certified city buildings, install energy-efficient lighting fixtures, and replace diesel buses with hybrid-electric buses — all trendy, green priorities.

Meanwhile, the city’s aging combined sewer overflow system dumps an estimated 70 million gallons of raw sewage, waste and rainwater into the Potomac River every time it rains. The city has had years to fix the problem, which it estimates will require $386 million in local funds. Until yesterday, the plan was to pay for the sum through a gradual 500% increase in city sewer fees over the next ten years.

Now city officials are “reeling,” reports the Alexandria Times, after Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law a bill that will compel the city to accelerate its timetable for fixing the problem by two years to 2025.

“We appreciate the governor’s earlier efforts to substitute a more reasonable deadline, and we remain fully committed to getting all four outfalls in Alexandria done, and to getting them done right,” said Mayor Allison Silberberg in response to the news. “While we are moving full steam ahead, we are very concerned that this legislation requires a deadline engineers have indicated is not feasible.”

Bacon’s bottom line: Yeah, yeah, yeah. If Alexandria really wants to consider itself an “eco-city,” its first priority should be to stop dumping human excrement into the Potomac River. Which would have a greater positive impact? Investing in save-the-world efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, which, might reduce global warming by a hundred-thousandth of a degree over the next 100 years, or stop fouling the river? I’ll hazard a guess that people living downstream would prefer the latter.

Until Alexandria gets its act together and stops polluting the Potomac, maybe it could do the rest of us a favor and spare us the “eco-city” blather.

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11 responses to “Eco-City Alexandria Kvetches about Accelerated Potomac Cleanup

  1. Jim:

    Your micro-aggressions against the fine snowflakes of Alexandria are disturbing. You didn’t even have the minimal courtesy to issue a trigger warning.

    Trigger warning! Trigger warning! The “come lately” proglibs from my hometown make me sick to my stomach. 70 million gallons of waste dumped into the Potomac every time it rains hard? Ewwww! You would think that the snowflakes of Alexandria would immediately, voluntarily cease all new development. Does it make sense to go to 80 million gallons of waste per thunderstorm? But, of course, Alexandria’s government won’t do that.
    Snowflakes are nothing if not two faced. Enough! If Alexandria wants to be a large scale pig sty they can at least stop breeding pigs.

    Republicans control the General Assembly as I recall. Ban further development in Alexandria until they can contain their excrement. Let Terry McSewage veto the measure and prove himself as two faced as the leaders of Alexandria.

  2. Never fear.. Mr. Trump has got Alexandria’s back.. he’s going to gut the EPA and it’s job-killing regulations that would take money away from people to clean up the Bay instead of letting them spend it on dogs and suds at local events!

    By the way, Alexandria is not the only city in Virginia with CSO and/or storm water runoff issues. Fairfax does it’s part to pollute the Potomac also – and also sued the EPA over regulations !

    The whole idea of the Feds making Alexandria clean up it’s poop is outrageous on it’s face.. The sheer arrogance of the Feds! Next thing you know they’re going demand storm water clean up!

    The EPA (otherwise known as “snowflake” central) is out of control and must be abolished before it causes even more harm!

    • >>By the way, Alexandria is not the only city in Virginia with CSO and/or storm water runoff issues. Fairfax does it’s part to pollute the Potomac also – and also sued the EPA over regulations !

      All part of that NOVA cabal of hypocritical government-loving idiots.

  3. I can understand the City of Alexandria’s concerns about the costs for fixing its sewer problems. But it’s position provides further evidence that global warming/climate change, while seemingly having a basis in science, is about power and politics. There is absolutely nothing the City of Alexandria can do that would affect climate change in any measurable way. But there is something the City can do to stop sending human waste into the Potomac River. And while waiving the environmental flag in everyone’s face, the City is fighting cleaning up a horrible source of water pollution. I find that almost as revolting as the pollution itself. Power and politics. Lead by example.

    And Larry, Fairfax County won its lawsuit. The court concluded the EPA misconstrued the statute and was acting beyond its authority. Keeping a government agency in check by restraining it to it statutory authority is a good thing.

  4. TMT – EPA was trying to control storm water runoff – the same way it has tried to control CSOs…

    here is the basis for Fairfax lawsuit:

    Suit challenges the EPA’s recently established rules governing Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limits for Accotink Creek.

    Proposed TMDL limits on stormwater flow provide no reasonable assurance that targets can be attained or that they will correct the underlying problem.

    Rule also will directly affect homeowners and commercial property owners.

    this is the same logic that the Farm Bureau and folks who want to gut the Chesapeake Bay Act are using.

    I would not be proud that Fairfax helped those folks… and in turn the dismantling of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

    storm water runoff in Fairfax is every bit the problem that CSOs are – everything that is in the CSO effluent is in the storm water effluent… oil, antifreeze, pet poop, insecticides, herbicides.. and more.

    this is what Fairfax “won” the right to put into the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay!

    ““We’re willing to spend money to protect our watersheds, our drinking water and the Chesapeake Bay,” [Sharon] Bulova said. “But we want to make sure that money is well spent.”

    • As my mother used to say, The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The court found the EPA’s actions were outside the Agency’s statutory authority. Do you want a government where the ends justify the means? Because every new president has different goals – ends if you will. Quite a few parties have challenged some of Trump’s actions. While I think some of the court holdings are wrong and will be reversed on appeal, I support the right of people, entities and states to go to court. And that includes those that challenged Obama as well.

      Fairfax County and VDOT proved the EPA’s standard was not authorized by law. Do we really want agencies to go beyond the law? Shouldn’t Congress debate whether to change the law or not?

  5. Folks should understand that the Potomac is ” coming back” but it had a long way to go – and it’s not there yet – it was literally an open sewer in the 1950-60s.

    Anyone who has paddled or boated along the shores of the Potomac KNOW that it STILL looks like this along much of it’s length from Washington to the Bay:

    this is stuff that comes out of the creeks in NoVa, DC and Md.. disgusting stuff.. … storm ponds do contain this stuff but there are no storm ponds in the older developed parts of Fairfax and region.

    Now. … the EPA … can’t regulate this kind of stuff… it’s up to Alexandria, Fairfax, DC and Md… and blaming the EPA won’t help.

  6. Oh, I get it. The EPA can’t regulate the dumping of raw sewage into a major river, but it can regulate a few extra parts per billion of carbon dioxide in the air. What a joke!

  7. well who knows what the EPA will regulate now, eh?

    but yes they DID regulate whatever went into the environment, on land, water and air and no it was not a binary approach.. it was always a concentration , percentage, measure as opposed to a binary all or nothing.

    For instance, you CAN put nitrogen or phosphorous into water or mercury or particulate matter into the air – but each has a specification as to how much based on what is determined to be a safe amount or concentration in the environment.

    That’s exactly why we allow coal to be burned even though it puts mercury into the environment rather than it being not allowed in any concentration at all. Ditto with particulate matter coming from vehicle tailpipes.

    we have always had and will continue to have people who opposed the concept of an EPA – the concept of a Federal agency with government bureaucrats determining what can be put into the environment and not.

    Long before the climate “skeptics”, we’ve had the same genre of folks who have questioned/challenged the legitimacy..of the EPA and the science it uses… in determining standards.

    These same folks have existed and continue to exist and seek times and places where they can attack and undermine them and their mission.

    they’ll pick some substance like salt and claim since it’s not a poison that it’s stupid to regulate it … or other substances that exist naturally like CO2 which in their minds means that any concentration of it that occurs in nature must be okay or else it would not occur in those concentrations to start with!

    sort of circular logic but that’s the way some folks think…

    so anything that is not an outright poison or innately toxic but instead is regulated by concentration – they tend to oppose.. like salt used on streets for snow.. or coal ash in landfills.

    It’s not that the opponents don’t believe SOME things ARE harmful – it’s that they see any govt regulator as inevitably going “too far”.. and getting “out of control”.

    But as a group – they cannot agree as to what should or should not ..each one has their own list of things they don’t see should be regulated.. – not necessarily based on science, which many do not believe to start with but just their own arbitrary – layperson views or for some companies their hired gun “scientists”.

    Cigarette companies then fossil fuel companies have engaged in outright propaganda to convince the public that neither are “that” harmful and that it’s wrong for the government to be telling us they are – those are our decisions…

    Needless to say -these folks if they were in charge – would take us back to 3rd world country status with our air and water totally compromised and a danger to citizens.s

    so YES – the EPA .. SHOULD REGULATE CO2 – I’ll take their word any day over the yahoos who don’t believe in science or government to start with!

  8. The Virginia court, following precedent from other federal courts, concluded the EPA had statutory authority to regulated pollutants, such as sediment, but not non-pollutants, such as storm water. It also concluded the Agency could regulate daily discharges, but not annual ones. Shouldn’t an agency follow the federal laws that set forth its powers and limitations?

    • TMT – if that is true – then how come the law is now requiring Storm Water Authorities that tax and new development that must have storm ponds?

      re: daily verse annual –

      NPDES is not the same as TMDL.. agree?

      TMDL is ANNUAL.. as well as daily…

      TMDL does not apply to CSOs – it’s a separate law and reg…

      re: agency rules

      yes.. I agree with you – except that you’re playing with technicalities… here

      the entire point of the law – is to prevent runoff of pollutants into the waterways.

      because there are separate regs – there are inconsistencies and loopholes but the intent of all of them is the same – to prevent pollutants from getting into the waterways – and you are using the loopholes to justify your position – “technically” but is your basic premise that because of the loopholes that it should not be cleaned-up – by everyone – equally – ??

      aren’t you essentially relying on technicalities in the law to justify not cleaning up?

      you’re saying if the pollutant comes form a drain pipe that is should be restricted but if it comes across a parking lot and into a creek – it does not.

      is that what the law really intended?

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