Environmental Quality of Life

Environmental Quality of Life

Advisory Council issues 512-page vision for county environmental policy.

Flooding will rise in concern in Fairfax County as a result of climate change, warned Stella Koch, chairperson of the county’s Environmental Quality Advisory Council.

“We want the county to develop policies on development and redevelopment in areas that are vulnerable to sea rise,” she said. “We’ve all seen increased flooding in parts of the county and that will only increase over time. We ask the county to take a focused look.”

Preparing for flooding could involve levees, berms and changes in land use, according to the report. Fairfax County would be impacted in a number of locations, but especially in the Belle Haven/New Alexandria area of Mount Vernon, along the tidal Potomac River.

Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth wants the county to find a solution to recycling glass, which is not currently being recycled, according to the report.

“People really appreciate recycling and glass is something you can recycle forever,” said Smyth. “This is causing our whole recycling ability not to work the way we want it to.”

According to the report: “The majority of recyclables collected in Fairfax County are delivered to third-party material processors that sort, purify and package target recyclables for resale. As a result, some collected recyclables do not ultimately go to market, due to contamination or the absence of a willing buyer. For example, such is currently the case for glass, for which none of the processors used by county collectors are actually recycling this material; it is currently considered a discard at area recycling plants and is shipped elsewhere for disposal.”

“Has our solid waste ever looked into a separate program for recycling of glass?” asked Smyth.

“We have this discussion frequently because it is not simple,” said Koch. “We’re working on it.”

THESE ARE JUST TWO issues raised in the 512-page annual report on the environment, which the Board of Supervisors approved at its Nov. 17 meeting before Thanksgiving.

The nine chapters of EQAC’s annual report on the environment present the county’s vision on topics ranging from deer management, light pollution, stormwater, recycling and more.

“I always use your report, your annual report as a model and an example of our being able to track our progress on our environmental agenda and making sure things don’t fall off our radar screen,” said Chairman Sharon Bulova. She said having environment vision is a way “to make sure we stay on top of the recommendations and the things we have committed to do,” said Bulova.

Koch recommended increased funding in watershed and environmental improvement programs, as well as funding two positions, an ecologist in the park authority and a wildlife management specialist.

“Most of those projects are cost effective, and they actually save the county money over time,” said Koch.

“Funding for the additional wildlife specialist would be really needed,” she said.

She asked the board “to continue to support the environmental projects that you have established.These programs are important if we are to maintain the high quality of life we have in Fairfax County and the high standards we have set for ourselves. We note that for Fairfax County residents, quality of life is not just about good schools and jobs but also about having a clean and healthy environment in which to live and recreate.”

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay asked that EQAC keep monitoring advancing technology and methods to be used to control the white-tailed deer population.

“Obviously controlling the deer population is critical to the natural environment,” said McKay.

HUNTER MILL DISTRICT Supervisor Cathy Hudgins asked if the county could find the proper balance between light pollution and creating pedestrian-friendly environments especially in transit areas.

“We’ve made some progress in terms of addressing light pollution and recognizing that the urban settings that we have require a given amount of light for pedestrians,” said Hudgins. “Our desire is to be a non-polluting environment but one that is pedestrian-friendly.”

“We’ll be happy to get back to you,” said Koch. “We like our homework assignments, because they help us focus.”

See http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/eqac/report2015/.