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Rappahannock County Water Quality Advisory Committee
Reports & Meeting Minutes
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; Tom Tepper, Rappahannock County Planning Commission.
Members Absent: S. Bryant Lee, Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Folsom called the meeting to order at 5:05. By unanimous consent, the agenda was approved. With no amendment, the minutes of the October 13, 2005 meeting were approved.
The Chair welcomed its two guest speakers, Mr. Jeffrey Walker of the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission and Mr. Charlie Lunsford, TMDL Project Coordinator with the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Mr. Walker “walked” the Committee members through the TMDL process as experienced in Fauquier & Culpeper County, noting the growing involvement of property owners as the process progressed. Mr. Lunsford made a presentation entitled “Introduction to TMDL Implementation Plans”. The slides to the presentation are included in the Committee’s working papers, and copies were provided to attendees. The presentation educated the Committee members on what a TMDL was, the process for determining “impaired” stream segments, and the overall process of study. He noted that a TMDL study will be required on four stream segments in Rappahannock County identified thus far, including portions of the Rush, Hazel, Thornton, and Rappahannock Rivers. Mr. Walker noted that these studies would probably be “bundled” with other listed streams in the region, and that this process would commence in the Spring.
There were several comments, notably from Mr. Tepper, the Chair, and Dr. Rifaat, concerning the inscrutability of the TMDL process. The language used, the somewhat daunting terminology, were viewed as being a major barrier to engaging the farming community whose participation, in light of the importance of livestock management, is viewed as being so critical. While generally agreeing that the technical nature of the process was a barrier, Mr. Walker felt that time and building up trust and familiarity would overcome those concerns.
Both Walker and Lunsford stressed the key role of public participation in the TMDL processes. Lunsford identified public meetings to solicit public input; a local steering committee to direct the overall process; and working groups to address community issues and concerns.
Lunsford explained that “Section 319 funds” are available to localities from US EPA for implementation of TMDL plans. In assigning priorities to localities for receiving these funds, an increasingly important factor is the “implementation support” in place in a locality. Existing organizational structures such as the WQAC and citizen watershed groups would be seen as a strength for “implementation support.”
Ms. Hunter asked what a TMDL study typically costs and Mr. Lunsford indicated that the process had shaken out to the point that a typical study ran in the vicinity of $20,000.00
The Committee next turned to a discussion of the proposed Tier III designation for the Hazel river, from the headwaters to its confluence with the Rapidan. The consensus of the Committee was that, since its role was to make recommendations on matters pertaining to water quality, there could be few measures that would act to better protect water quality than Tier III designation. Therefore, with Mr. McCarthy abstaining, the Committee agreed to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors supporting the designation.
The Chair elected to defer item on the agenda that had been placed at his request (a report on a recent DCR information session) until the next meeting.
The Chair reminded everyone to contact Mr. McCarthy at least one week prior to the next meeting with agenda items for discussion. The meeting adjourned at 6:21 PM