Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Chesapeake Bay Urban and Farming runoff. We need real dialog.

I wrote back to the Daily Press and copied my Senator Tommy Norment. Following are my ideas for a cleaner bay.

All Concerned, 

Reference: 2-3-1-2022 Daily Press opinion Chesapeake Bay. 

An interesting opinion has been written many times over the last 24 months. As an environmental expert and professional, I pondered your realization as to Farming and Urban runoff as significant issues. Maybe the letters I have written detailing those issues are finally paying off. 

The issue with the Daily Press opinion over 24 months is that you do not elaborate on Urban Runoff or Farming issues as I have written to you before asking why; we must tackle each topic to improve the Bay's health. 

Here are the issues for you to consider for further investigation:

Farming Lobby: A powerful lobby that shakes and moves state legislation. It would benefit the Daily Press to contact the Farming Lobby, perhaps through a senior senator, to discuss issues. Mainly due to farming being rural and not urban, you will need to understand agriculture, to begin with. Urban dwellers do not understand how the rest of the world lives, how the majority of the land in Virginia is used. Also, note the entire state is not in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Driving 81 south from Lexington, you will cross the watershed about 20-miles from Roanoke, Va. Being a rural conservative growing up working on a farm in the 1970's  I can tell you Farmers do care about the environment, but the truth is most farmers do not have the resources to implement river barriers, or plant tree buffers as an example. Fertilizer management is under control. I would not blame the overuse of fertilizers here.

Urban Runoff is the most significant contributor today to the detriment of the Chesapeake Bay. Here homeowner fertilizers need to be considered a detriment to the environment. A soil test should be conducted, and then the proper amount of fertilizer resulting in a net-zero runoff should be considered. Every day I cringe when I see a truck loaded with fertilizers pull up to homes and start spraying without a soil test. The truth is most yards do not need liquid fertilizers sprayed every quarter every year and for years. How do you know how much nitrogen to spray if you don't know where to start? A soil test helps the customer manage fertilizers and runoff. Lawns can absorb only so much nitrogen and other minerals needed for a nice yard; the rest flows into the Bay through rain events. Here again, powerful urban lobbyists are at work, I suspect. 

The Daily press needs to uncover these two powerful lobbyists, interview them, and ask tough questions. At the same time, the Daily Press needs to be mindful of the cost associated with a change in this case as we need to be careful not to bankrupt the very person who puts food on our tables. Urban centers are growing fast; this includes housing and, of course, an increase in urban runoff. Think about it. We increased the number of lanes on 64 from Hampton Roads to the west of Williamsburg. This alone will produce millions of gallons of runoff that may or may not be effectively managed and depends on the hydraulic retention time of the runoff. VDOT will do its best, I might suppose. 

The leading issues for the Bay are urban centers, fast-growing populations that are out of control, and the Daily Press sitting back and doing nothing but complain. 

PS: Thanks for the article Daily Press. As usual, the Daily Press allows me to offer a different point of view, based on knowledge and, regularly, I might add. 

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