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Reston Association Receives ‘State of the Environment’ Report Summary

The Reston Association’s Board of Directors received a summary last week of the second annual report about the state of the environment in Reston.

Doug Britt, a Virginia Master Naturalist and the director of Reston Association’s first Reston Annual State of the Environment Report, gave an overview of the 2018 Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER) at a Reston Association meeting on Thursday (Nov. 15).

The study is intended to give readers a better understanding of Reston’s current environmental conditions in order to provide a baseline against which future changes to the environment can be measured.

The second RASER updates all of the topics addressed in the first one, along with adding new topics and recommendations. The results of the first RASER arrived in January after it was published last July.

The report has 11 new recommendations, which include the following:

  • Schedule dredging when nuisance aquatic weeds are dormant
  • Enforce shoreline distribution regulations for cluster shoreline properties
  • Create a plan to alert residents about lake safety issues
  • Assess whether de-icing salts are affecting water quality
  • Partner with organizations to conduct native plant education programs, to use edible plants in landscaping and to distribute leftover food
  • Determine baseline noise levels throughout parts of Reston

The report also has an analysis of 19 environmental attributes — rating them on a scale of green (good), yellow (fair), red (poor) and undetermined — and adds in excerpts from Fairfax County’s Environmental Vision Document. “I feel confident as a community that we are way ahead of a lot of other county committees in meeting the revised vision document of the county,” Britt said.

Attributes that got a “green” rating include air quality, drinking water, wastewater treatment, hazardous and toxic waste and environmental education.

Streams received a bump from “red” to “yellow” status this year after more diversity than expected was found in them over the summer, Britt said, adding that almost half of Reston’s streams have been restored. Lakes and ponds, urban forests, landscaping, wildlife management and light pollution also got bucketed in the “yellow” rating.

Attributes that lacked enough data for an adequate rating included wetlands, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates and noise pollution.

Only one received the “red” designation: stormwater management. “When Reston first developed in the early 60’s and 70’s, the stormwater was typically shunted from development sites into nearby receiving sites as quickly as possible trough impervious surfaces,” Britt said. “This resulted in the streams not being able to handle the capacity of storm surges.”

South Lakes District Director Julie Bitzer said at the meeting that she has had a lot of residents talk to her about erosion and stormwater management, because of the amount of rain this year. “I think that is something we need to look at,” she said.

Britt encouraged the board to move away from the “band-aid approach” of expensive lake dredging to remove sediment and instead focus on soil erosion prevention, which he said will be a more cost-efficient choice for improving streams and water quality issues. He also suggested that the board empower residents to help by using low-technology solutions like rain gardens and also set higher standards for developers.

Britt also provided a breakdown of the progress of the 61 recommendations made in last year’s report. Two have been completed, while the rest include 14 lacking progress, 20 with limited work done and 25 with “substantial” progress.

“I don’t want anybody to get the idea that because only two were fully completed, that this designates some ignoring of these recommendations, because very few of the recommendations were what I would call ‘one and done,'” he said.

The three highest priorities should be protecting Reston’s urban forests, improving surface water quality and maintaining “robust” education and outreach programs, Britt said.

RASER recommendations will continue annually, while updates will come every other year, Britt said. The next updated text is expected to be released in 2020.

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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Entries for Abandoned Boat Raffle Due This Week

Reston Association is holding a raffle for abandoned and donated boats this week. In order to enter, individuals must email [email protected] with the subject line “BOAT RAFFLE” by Thursday (August 24).

The email must contain the name of the entrant, address and phone numbers. Entries are limited to one per household. Proof of residency and a general access permit application are required to be eligible to participate.

Winners will be randomly selected the week of August 27. Those selected can pick a boat on a first-come, first-serve basis. All boats must be purchased as they are. The raffle and boats are free.

Reston Association is, however, encouraging donations to Friends of Reston to help fund watershed education program. The organization is a non-profit entity that aims to support RA’s charitable, educational and scientific purposes, according to its website.

File photo

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Reston Association Working Group Kicks of Meetings on Lakes, Docks and Boats

A Reston Association working group created to analyze rules governing lakes, docks and boats kicked off it meetings on June 13 (Wednesday).

RA’s board of directors formed the group on March 22 in response to residents’ concerns about outdated boating policies, enforcement issues and overall usage of local lakes. The group will provide recommendations to the board in November.

During the first meeting, members received information on Reston’s lakes, as well as the type and number of boats and docks currently allowed.

The group’s objectives include identification of the environmental impact of docks and boats, a review of current rules and policies and whether or not rules infringe on lakeside property owners’ use of their properties.

The presentation given to the working group is linked here.

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Why Fairfax Tap Water May Taste Funny Next Few Weeks

Fire hydrantIf your tap water has a funny taste to it in the next few weeks, don’t be alarmed.

Fairfax Water is warning customers ahead of time that it is spring hydrant flushing season.

Each spring, Fairfax Water flushes its water mains by opening fire hydrants and allowing them to flow freely for a short period of time.

For most of the county, this will start in late March.

So why the funny smell and taste? In the spring, Fairfax Water slightly changes its water treatment process, switching from using combined chlorine to free chlorine. Free chlorine is quicker acting than combined, which allows it to react with sediments suspended during flushing, officials said in a release.

The chlorine taste and odor in your drinking water happens while free chlorine is washing its way through. Flushing also may result in temporary discoloration and the presence of sediment in the water, Fairfax Water.

But the water is still safe to drink.

“If you are especially sensitive to the taste and odor of chlorine, try keeping an open container of drinking water in your refrigerator,” says Fairfax Water. “But remember, drinking water has a shelf life! Change out the water in your refrigerated container weekly.”

If you have questions about this program or the work being conducted in your area, call Fairfax Water at 703-698-5613.

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