Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed

Rappahannock County Water Quality Advisory Committee

Reports & Meeting Minutes

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July 14, 2005

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

Members Absent:
S. Bryant Lee, Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors
Tom Tepper, Rappahannock County Planning Commission

Mr. Folsom called the meeting to order at 5:01. By unanimous consent, the agenda was approved. With some amendments, the minutes of the April 14, 2005 meeting were approved.

The WQAC turned to a discussion of the proposed Tier III Waters designation for the Piney River and the North Fork of the Thornton Rivers, both in Rappahannock County. There were no recent ctions on this proposal, which is being considered by the Department of Environmental Quality.

A discussion followed in the WQAC as to the merits of either extending the Tier III designation to the Hazel river, an initiative being forwarded by Sally Mello, a Culpeper County resident. A discussion followed, wherein Beverly Hunter reported that Ms. Mello feels, through conversations with Culpeper officials, that they might be more supportive of the designation, which they previously had opposed (see attached e-mail). Mr. Wichelns reported that he was not sure that elected officials in Culpeper had moved their position that far. Ms. Hunter reported that the Board of Supervisors had tabled a request for a sewer discharge into the Hazel that would support the Longlea development (of up to 1,000 units of housing), for 90 days, to further examine the Tier III designation.

Dr. Rifaat felt strongly that the WQAC should take a position on the proposed designation and made a motion to recommend support of the proposal to the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors. The motion was seconded by Ms. Hunter. After a brief discussion, all present voted to table the motion pending notification by the Department of environmental Quality that an application was being considered and soliciting local governments’ comments on the proposal.

The Chair called for discussion of the Town of Washington’s request for a treatment plant. Mr. McCarthy reported that the Town was not currently considering either property to the north of Town (the Clopton and Updike properties) for either a subsurface system or discharging treatment facility. He also reported that their current planning and investigation focused on the Avon Hall property, and was not centered on a subsurface treatment proposal. Much discussion followed as to the controversy in the Town over its sewage disposal options and the impact thereof on land use planning.

The Chair next called for a report on recent RappFLOW activities. Ms. Hunter presented a great deal of information (detailed in the attached report) concerning the group’s study of fecal coliform bacteria in the Thornton River and its possible sources. She asked whether preliminary data from this study regarding the Sperryville Sewage Treatment Plant warrants further inquiry. She also asked the group whether it recommends efforts to promote local public awareness and education concerning the TMDL strategy that is being pursued by the State.

The discussion of RappFLOW’s activities evolved into a broader discussion of the TMDL strategies of the Rover Basin and DEQ. Dr. Rifaat noting that the effect on cost-share activities would be significant, and adding that 11% of the funding for BMPs would focus on enhanced nutrient management, conservation tillage and cover crops. She provided a document discussion “Cost effective Strategies for the Bay” produced by the Chesapeake Bay Commission (see attached).

The Chair asked for a report on Package Sewage Treatment Plants, and Mr. McCarthy and Medge Carter reported on the recent report by Charles Shepherd (VdoH regional Manager) to the Planning Commission on the current state of technology in Virginia. Medge Carter noted that she remained a strong advocate of on-site treatment. She felt that the soil types in this area were suitable to treat household wastes, so long as they were not overloaded. She noted that the original subsurface system proposed by the Town might have dealt with the relatively high levels of waste that come from local restaurants by diluting it with the household stream. She provided a detailed review of Mr. Shepherd’s talk. At the conclusion, both Mr. McCarthy , Ms. Carter and Ms. Hunter noted that the alternate systems were alike in that they too often failed. Mr. McCarthy indicated that it was his sense of the Planning Commission’s attitude that an amendment to the County Code to only allow these alternate systems in the place of failed on-site systems would be forthcoming.

Greg Wichelns noted that the Low Impact Development (LID) project at the Elementary School was complete. He brought one of the “milk Crates” that create the underground water tanks used to store rainwater and thereby manage stormwater from the roof systems. He noted that the application was useful in ditches, drainageways, etc., and were ideal in areas with limited space for retention. Mr. Makela and Mr. McCarthy added to the report and photos of the installation were circulated.

Mr. Wichelns also noted that he was a participant in a working group of the Rappahannock River Basin Commission focusing on non-point source pollutants and he distributed an “input deck” (see attached) showing the various acreages and BMPS that needed to be applied, by jurisdiction, in the Commission’s opinion. It was agreed that the high amounts of acreages indicated would need further study. He also provided a seven point listing of the groups’ goals with the Rappahannock River Tributary Strategy.

The Chair reminded everyone to contact Mr. McCarthy at least one week prior to the next meeting with agenda items for discussion. After a brief further discussion, including setting the next meeting date for September 8th, 2005, and agreement that the session had been informative, the meeting adjourned at 6:24 PM.

Respectfully Submitted,


John W. McCarthy, Secretary