October 30, 2017

James River health improves 10 points

The folks at the James River Association caught my attention when they recently announced that the James River's health had improved by 10 points in 10 years. That was good news indeed since I walk along this river's shorelines frequently.

But what this retired teacher does NOT understand is how the current health of the James River earned a "B-" from these great watchdogs of the James when the overall score had just risen to 62% of its goals. No student I ever had earned a "B-" for a 62. That is a "D" in most classrooms.

OK, so 14 out of 19 "indicators" had improved. And wastewater pollution controls have helped a LOT. Plus a recent speaker I heard talking about the growing numbers of tagged sturgeon in both the James and Chickahominy.

Check out the James River Association website for more ways to help the James.

October 16, 2017

Pumping water back into aquifers?

The idea of pumping treated wastewater back into the deep Potomac aquifer sounds a bit yucky to many folks. But supposedly, it has been done successfully elsewhere. Some initiatives in Clearwater, Florida, say it can be done.

Florida firms have successfully treated wastewater to irrigate golf courses. Even purifying it to drinking standards too! But "toilet to tap" has its skeptics.

That has not stopped James City County from looking at this technology. A recent headline proclaimed that the county was "to get its first aquifer plant." Further reading explains that James City County feels the pressure to do something to allow it to keep drawing down our groundwater supplies.

A pilot program in Yorktown to treat wastewater to drinking standards has begun; another pilot in Suffolk to inject a million gallons per day into the aquifer. But the entire project (seven plants) has a $1 billion price tag.

Why do we look at this "ground-breaking" effort? Local areas in Tidewater are sinking or "subsiding." And this, along with sea level rise, are not making many waterfront homeowners happy. Or anyone in flood-prone neighborhoods for that matter.

More permits are needed before the project proceeds. But watch local papers for updates.