September 15, 2009

Contradictory actions?

I’m puzzled by the recent contradictory actions of two Virginia advisory boards—the Soil and Conservation Board and the Water Control Board.

On the one hand, the state’s Soil and Water Conservation Board wants to tighten rules on storm water runoff. These proposed rules would reduce phosphorus by 38 percent by requiring more natural buffer areas and permeable concrete. But many local governments and builders are opposing these changes since they see it as adding to their construction costs and limiting “smart growth.” I can't follow that logic, but that's where they stand.

But the Virginia State Water Control Board has an even more astounding way to “control” water. Last April, they ruled that Merck pharmaceutical company could add more pollutants to the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. Specifically, 29,216 more pounds of nitrogen and 3,288 more pounds of phosphorus could be discharged each year into the South Fork Shenandoah River than allowed under a state program designed in 2005 to accelerate waterways restoration.

Is anyone communicating about what they’re trying to accomplish to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay? Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?