Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed

Rappahannock County Water Quality Advisory Committee

Reports & Meeting Minutes

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February 10, 2005

Members Present: Bev. Hunter, RappFLOW
Kenner Love, Virginia Cooperative Extension
Greg Wichelns, Culpeper Soil & Water Conservation District
Tom Tepper, Rappahannock County Planning Commission
Medge Carter, Virginia Department of Health
Monira Rifaat, Rappahannock County Farmland Protection Committee
Reid Folsom, Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection

Members Absent: S. Bryant Lee, Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors

Mr. McCarthy called the meeting to order at 5:01 and introductions were made between those members who did not already know each other. Mr. McCarthy asked for nominations for Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary and, by acclamation, Reid Folsom, Bev Hunter and John McCarthy were named to those positions, respectively.

The WQAC discussed the meeting dates and times and agreed to hold its meetings on the second Tuesday of every other month, at 5:00 PM, at the Courthouse, and to try to keep the meeting length to one hour.

Proposed Tier III Waters. The WQAC turned to a discussion of the proposed Tier III Waters designation for a number of streams and rivers, all of which are in either the Shenandoah National Park or the George Washington National Forest, and including Piney River and the North Fork of the Thornton Rivers, both in Rappahannock County. Tier III designation denotes exceptional waters, that exist in a pristine state. Designation would forbid the addition of any pollutant discharge into the waterway as well as the expansion of any existing discharge. It was noted that there would be a public hearing on March 7 at 2:00 PM at the Luray Fire Department.

Mr. McCarthy reported that the Tier III designation was a mandate from the USEPA to state governments; i.e. each state government was expected to nominate and designate some Tier III waters. This application appeared to be the State’s “path of least resistance” in accomplishing that goal. A discussion on the merits of the Tier III designation followed, including a brief recapitulation of past efforts at designating water ways (all of which had failed to be listed), including the Hazel river in Rappahannock and Culpeper Counties. It was noted that property rights’ concerns had often conflicted with resource protection imperatives in these discussions, and was likely to continue to be a source of conflict. It was generally felt that the designation was a potentially useful means of protecting water quality. Mr. McCarthy was directed to include the notice on the proposed designation in a mailing to members.

Elementary School Stormwater Management. The WQAC next discussed a planned low impact development stormwater management project that is a component of the elementary school capitol project. Mr. Wichelns, noting that the County had obtained a grant for $22,440 for the design and construction of this project, described it as including a subsurface tank for the collection of stormwater from the new and existing roofs, which would then be released slowly in to drainageways. While design was still underway, there might also be a “raingarden” component and there would certainly be several educational opportunities, one for contractors and one for students, as well as a training/demonstration video made of the installation.

Town of Washington Sewage Discharge to Rush River. The WQAC next turned to a discussion of the pending Town of Washington application for a sewage discharge permit into the Rush River. Medge Carter offered some insight in to the condition of some septic systems in the Town and some anecdotal information about the possible state of some older systems. Noting that while there were some areas with serious problems, the nature of systems I the Town was highly variable; if space was available for repair, systems had generally done well or been able to be repaired. There was also some discussion on the fact there was little area for expansion or for new fields. It was generally felt that there was a lack of clear, reliable information on alternatives available. Bev Hunter noted that many people were concerned but simply were not aware of where to turn for more information. Mr. McCarthy agreed to provide summary material from the Town if available.

After a brief further discussion, including setting the next meeting date for April 14th, 2005, and agreement that the session had been informative, the meeting adjourned at 6:10 PM

Respectfully Submitted,

John W. McCarthy, Secretary