Reston Association Dives Into Updated State of Environment Report

The Reston Association’s (RA) Board of Directors listened to a presentation about its surrounding environment as part of the Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER) on Thursday, Dec. 17.

Doug Britt, a Virginia Master Naturalist and chair of RA’s Environmental Advisory Committee, presented the RASER study update to the board and RA’s members. The update has 18 authors and coauthors that include members of RA’s environmental advisory committee and outside individuals.

The update conforms to RASER’s five objectives listed on RA’s website:

  • Summarize existing quantitative environmental data for the Reston community in one publicly accessible document.
  • Establish an environmental baseline that can be reassessed annually to facilitate the identification of environmental trends and to evaluate the efficacy of environmental improvement and conservation programs and initiatives.
  • Provide relevant and timely environmental information that can help RA and its board of directors in shaping future policy and programs.
  • Help educate and inform Reston residents and other interested parties about Reston’s environmental health.
  • Create a living document that can be revised and expanded as deemed appropriate to meet future environmental challenges and information needs.

This latest RASER update focused on 21 natural resources or environmental topics. Each topic was color-coded green (good), yellow (fair), red (poor), or black (undetermined) to indicate its overall condition.

The following attributes received a green status: air quality, drinking water, wastewater treatment, hazardous materials and toxic waste, and environmental education and outreach.

Fair attributes include: streams, lakes and ponds, urban forests, meadows, landscaping and urban agriculture, birds, wildlife management issues, and light pollution.

Poor attributes include storm water management and solid waste management.

Undetermined attributes include: wetlands, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates, noise pollution, and climate change.

Britt described storm water management as “perhaps the biggest existing problem” in Reston. He estimates that the issue dates back to the lack of strict county regulations when Reston was expanding in the 1960s and 1970s.

Single-use plastics are one of the primary concerns that resulted in solid waste management receiving a poor rating. Britt added that litter created by personal protection equipment and food carryout materials have been a unique issue in 2020.

Britt said the RASER group would come back at another board meeting to present a standalone report on energy efficiency. He said there is a plan to include the category in the 2020 RASER update, but the subject was so “complex to take on” that the group decided to separate the subject from this update.

The RASER project team will return to RA’s board in either January or February to present a combined list of recommendations for RA and a report card on how attributes have been addressed.

The board approved to accept the report as it was presented Thursday. Now that the nearly 200-page report has been accepted by the board, the full copy of it will be available to the public on RA’s website under the environmental page.

“This group has been the most amazing group of volunteers,” board member Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza said of the RASER project team.

“It’s been a pleasure to watch them work. Their dedication is just unbelievable.”

RASER was first published in July 2017 and updated in 2018. It is now updated and published biennially while the RASER project team publishes a report card and recommendations annually.

Photo via Reston Association/Facebook

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