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Prince William Conservation Alliance
Explore, Enjoy & Protect Local Natural Areas

Community Report
October 22, 2010
Newsletter archive


Pouring Tax Dollars Down the Drain - Literally - with Stormwater

Featherstone Refuge Tour   Wildlife Counts at Merrimac Farm

Should we fix the problem or fix the blame?

Northern Walkingstick face 
Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.
~Elizabeth Lawrence

Act Locally

Please consider a donation supporting this newsletter and projects that create opportunities to benefit wildlife and people.

In the News  

Losing battle against the Bay
Washington Post; October 20 2010  

'The Buzzard of Back Country' strikes it rich in national parks
Wall Street Journal October 2 2010  

Life on the Edge: Four visions for inhabiting a world transformed by climate change
Popular Science; October 18 2010

Great Places in America: Public Spaces American Planning Association; October 13 2010

Cost cuts risk weakening Louisiana levees
UPI, October 18 2010


Stormwater is the number one cause of water pollution in the United States.

Water from sidewalks and streets flows into storm drains, which do not remove pollutants.

Anything you place in storm drains goes directly into a lake or stream.

Freshwater animals are disappearing five times faster than land animals. (  

The rate of urban growth in floodplains is approximately twice that of the rest of the country.  (FEMA)

Most water pollution is preventable.    


Sun. Nov. 7, 3:30 pm
Fundraiser to improve  conservation landscape project at the Merrimac Farm Stone House Visitor Center.
Two seats left! Join us, have a great time and support a great project.

Monday, December 27, beginning at 7:00 am

Sunday, April 10, beginning at 10:00 am
   Pouring Tax Dollars Down the Drain -
   Literally - with Stormwater

PWCA 1st Thursday Speaker Series  

Robberfly face by Dee MarshWhen: Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 pm   Where: Bull Run Unitarian Church, 9350 Main St., Manassas  

Speakers: Charlie Grymes, Prince William Conservation Alliance Chairman Marc Aveni, PWC Watershed Management Division Chief

After 27 years of promising to Save the Chesapeake Bay, a Federal judge finally ordered EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act.

Prince William's population is predicted to grow by one-third over the next 20 years, but EPA will require that we reduce impacts from current levels of runoff.

The days of slow, voluntary implementation of "best management practices" are over; tough choices lie ahead.  

What does this mean for Prince William County? Clearly we're in a hole... is Prince William prepared to invest in a sustainable future? How much will such a future cost and is the public willing to pay? What are the consequences if we don't?  

Join us on Thursday, November 4, at 7:30 pm when Charlie Grymes and Marc Aveni discuss the myths and realities of clean streams from our backyard to the Chesapeake Bay.

  Featherstone Refuge Tour
Angle-winged Katydid faceWhen: Saturday, Nov. 6 from 8:00 to 10:30 am

Where: Meet at the Ripon VRE parking lot, end of Farm Creek Drive just past the intersection with Rippon Blvd., Woodbridge

RVSP appreciated:PWCA,, 703 499 4954.

Pease join us for a walk through the Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge, 325 acres of bottomland forests and fresh water tidal marshes along the Potomac River.

Bring binoculars and cameras, wear clothes suitable for exploring the great outdoors, and plan on a pleasant morning at a unique Northern Virginia natural area.

The Featherstone Refuge is currently closed to the public but the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is moving in the right direction. The draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) - the first step - is now slated for publication in mid-November. Read more...

   Wildlife Counts at Merrimac Farm
Ichneumon Wasp face

When: Sunday, Oct. 31 from 8:00 to 10:30 am  

Where: Meet at the Stone House Visitor Center, 15020 Deepwood Lane, Nokesvile

We'll look for birds and other wildlife, especially butterflies, as we travel through the uplands to the edge of the floodplain, covering a variety of habitats, including open fields and woodland edges. Everyone is welcome.

Dress for the weather, bring binoculars and cameras. More info and RSVP (not required) to PWCA, 703.499.4954 or alliance(at)

   Should we fix the problem
   or fix the blame?

Great Blue Skimmer facePrince William County officials will raise one tax next Spring, even though 2011 is an election year for supervisors. The stormwater “utility” will go up in the next budget.

Local officials will blame the Federal government.

Supervisors will posture even more about “stringent but unfunded” regulations to make our local waters safe for swimming/fishing/aquatic life (and to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay downstream). 

Controlling stormwater pollution will impose excessive financial burdens on local government, so any stormwater utility increases are the fault of EPA, Congress, the President…

No one wants to pay more taxes, but who is to blame for our local stormwater problem? Is it fair to blame the Feds?

In Prince William, wastewater treatment plants have been upgraded, and farmers have been implementing best management practices. 

However pollution from stormwater is increasing. Why? Too much dirty water is flowing off pavement in subdivision, shopping centers, roads. As the population grows, we keep converting fields/forests to new pavement rather than redeveloping places already paved.

State and local officials have had 27 years to act since the Chesapeake Bay Agreement of 1983. Prince William residents want our local creeks and drinking water reservoirs (Lake Manassas/Occoquan Reservoir) to meet Clean Water Act standards. 

The requirement for our streams to be safe for swimming/fishing/aquatic life is common sense, not a new “gotcha” mandate from Washington bureaucrats.

The current stormwater utility raises about $5 million/year. Are we getting our money’s worth? Is raising taxes the first thing  to do, or does blame allocation come first? 

Before supervisors bloviate about the Feds and increase the stormwater utility in the 2011-12 budget, they should look for cost-effective ways to avoid future stormwater pollution. When you are in a hole, quit digging.

There’s a great opportunity right now: adopt stronger stream protection standards in the new Environment Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan, and start protecting intermittent streams.  It’s cheaper to prevent pollution than to clean it up. As the old saying goes, “a stitch in time saves nine.”

Read the full article and share your views...