AlbCo supervisor ken boyd, executive tom foley
In dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institutions are not aboriginal though they existed before we were born: that they are not superior to the citizen: that every one of them was once the act of a single man: every law and usage was a man’s expedient to meet a particular case: that they all are imitable, all alterable; we may make as good; we may make better. Society is an illusion to the young citizen. It lies before him in rigid repose with certain names, men, and institutions rooted like oak trees to the centre, round which all arrange themselves the best they can. But the old statesman knows that society is fluid; there are no such roots and centres but any particle may suddenly become the centre of the movement, and compel the system to gyrate round it as every man of strong will like Pisistratus or Cromwell, does for a time, and every man of truth like Plato, or Paul, does forever. But politics rest on necessary foundations and cannot be treated with levity.– Politics Ralph Waldo Emerson


water supply plan 2005
For the first 45 years of my life I successfully avoided going to meetings except in a my professional capacity as a newspaper photographer. I was too busy living, raking leaves, raising children, paying bills, working… Meetings were for other people.
I imagine that meetings once upon a time were fun. A smoke filled room, a trough, a bunch of white guys cutting up the pie.
Meetings in the 21st Century have a different form. They feature a public process. Pieces of paper where the public can leave their e-mail addresses. Pieces of paper where the public can write down their thoughts. Public hearings!
I wonder where all those pieces of paper go?
Meeting above was 2/17/05, featured a facilitator and pieces of paper, water supply plan. Meeting below, CHO NDS, pieces of paper.

We were for it before we were against it

City of Charlottesville and County of Albermarle officials met January 18, 2011, to share water supply ideas. It was SRO.

County Supervisor Dennis Rooker was very persuasive.

Many City residents have contacted the elected representatives, arguing for a phased approach to water supply improvement.
I wrote the Council this past weekend.

Later in the day, January 18, City Council met and discussed the water supply.
Mayor Dave Norris and Vice Mayor Holly Edwards wished to preserve the City’s water system assets. Councilors Huja, Szakos and Brown voted to amend Council’s September 20 resolution and build a thirty foot dam.

Read more:
The Hook
Hawes Spencer and David Norris join Coy Barefoot to discuss.
Kevin Lynch and Dede Smith join Coy Barefoot.
January 21, 2011, Mr. Huja joins Coy Barefoot
January 25, 2011, Ms. Szakos joins Coy Barefoot
January 25, 2011, Mayor Dave Norris joins Coy Barefoot

Congdon Street

Cities typically have “Standards and Design Manuals” that lay out engineering specifications for roads, sidewalks, sewer and water systems.
Whenever one encounters a street or neighborhood that is inviting to pedestrians, that area was usually built before the introduction of these manuals.
For more, read: Confessions of a Recovering Engineer

green city philippic

My new neighbors across the street leave their lights on at night, illuminating my house and sleeping quarters. Will talk to them.

This morning, the glow coming through the window woke me at 0500hrs.

Since 1999 I’ve talked with the City about “light trespass”, light pollution and about funds spent to undo the night.
We are in tough fiscal times. The City Council has a budget workshop next Thursday. How is this for an idea? Turn off some of the lights!
Today, at 0545hrs there were seventeen lights illuminating the empty pools at the “Onesty Family Aquatic Facility”.
Who pays that electric bill?

How much does Charlottesville City spend on lights?

Here are the updated numbers and costs that you requested relating to street lighting in the City. Dominion Power has about 3800 street lights installed and operating in the City. This figure is approximate as we have work orders in at most times to add or take down a few. The monthly cost is $11. Replacement costs are $18/lamp, $180/globe, $37/ballast and $975 per pole. City Owned ornamental street lights have increased to 435 and are separately metered. We now have a new “dark sky” compliant standard for all new street lights installed in the City. The cost to changed an old fixture to the new “dark sky” compliant is $800. The City does not have a separate contract with Dominion for street lights. We joined with other municipalities in the Commonwealth and negotiated a common contract.–6/24/09 Public Works

In December of 2000, citizens submitted a petition:

A Petition to the Planning Commission and City Council of the City of Charlottesville

We, the undersigned residents of the City of Charlottesville, request that the Commission and Council begin a plan now for improving the future of nighttime outdoor lighting in our community.
1. The increasing opaque glow in our night sky is evidence of wasted energy.
2. Lighting that produces glare in our line-of-sight is blinding and a safety hazard.
3. Unshielded, or excessive lighting intrudes into nearby homes, yards and natural areas.
Please design a plan to discourage outdoor lighting that:
1. Shines light upward into the sky, where it serves no purpose.
2. Creates glare in our line-of-sight, or intrudes into private properties/natural areas.
3. Is excessively bright, exceeding recognized industry recommendations.
“Full cut-off” shielded lighting fixtures are now offered by all major lighting manufacturers. These fixtures efficiently distribute light downward, without glare and control the spill of light into the neighboring properties and the night sky.
Through these improvements we can improve nighttime visibility & public safety, conserve energy, be good neighbors and regain our disappearing view of the night sky.

There have de jure advances in the past ten years (a lighting ordinance was passed) but little de facto change. Why are the Park Street and Locust Avenue bridges over Route 250 illuminated sufficiently to read the Hook at night?

When will our City learn how to operate a light switch?

History Of Streetlighting in the US–Wikipedia

Organization involved with saving night International Dark-Sky Association

State Water Control Law

It seems harsh to say that political leaders don’t give a rip about the quality of our physical environment. But how else can you explain the condition of Virginia’s streams and rivers?
In 1950, the Virginia General Assembly added the Water Control Law to the State Code.

The short title of this chapter is the State Water Control Law. It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the purpose of this law to:
(1) protect existing high quality state waters and restore all other state waters to such condition of quality that any such waters will permit all reasonable public uses and will support the propagation and growth of all aquatic life, including game fish, which might reasonably be expected to inhabit them;
(2) safeguard the clean waters of the Commonwealth from pollution;
(3) prevent any increase in pollution;
(4) reduce existing pollution;
(5) promote and encourage the reclamation and reuse of wastewater in a manner protective of the environment and public health; and
(6) promote water resource conservation, management and distribution, and encourage water consumption reduction in order to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the present and future citizens of the Commonwealth.

Communicate with Virginia and the EPA about the waters of Virginia with this form letter, courtesy of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
The public comment period ends November 8 (EPA) and November 11 (Commonwealth of Virginia).

trickle down

Very Big Deal

I am keeping a list of our home-grown Cassandras, that valiant bunch with a knack for prophecy, citizens looking a few months ahead.
With one exception (Charlottesville Tomorrow), local media have shown little interest in this acronym laced, Chesapeake Bay “environmental” story. TMDLs, WIPs. Ho-Hum. Complicated. Who cares?
The information is beginning infiltrate into politicians’ craniums via multiple public meetings where the Cassandras stand up and sing. Government staff “get” the import of pending events, but until voters shriek and wail, no action will be seen from elected leaders.
For citizens wishing to weigh in, write a letter to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
Ask the DCR to craft a Watershed Implementation Plan that “gets it done”. The WIP must provide the EPA with details, legislative proposals, reasonable assurance…
The public comment period for the draft Virginia Watershed Implementation Plan closes a week from today.

(Notes: audio clip is CHO Planning Commission Chairman Jason Pearson at that body’s October 12, 2010 meeting. Water up top, Rappahannock River, politicians, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Ken Boyd and Duane Snow.)


The EPA is holding a series of public meetings this fall to discuss the Chesapeake Bay TMDL (total maximum daily load), the amount of pollution dumped into local waters. Its like calories, feed your child too much, they get fat. Dump too many pollutants in state waters, they get tainted.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is leading a major initiative to establish and oversee achievement of a strict “pollution diet” to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its network of local rivers, streams and creeks.
EPA is working with its state partners to set binding limits on nutrient and sediment pollution through a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, a tool of the federal Clean Water Act that will be backed by accountability measures to ensure cleanup commitments are met.–EPA

The EPA asked the Bay watershed states (VA, NY, PA, DE, MD) and DC to submit plans to reduce pollutants, they asked “what are you going to do and when?”. The plans the states turned in weren’t adequate in the EPA’s estimation, they found the plans vague. The EPA has asked for revised plans from the states. Meanwhile, the EPA figures, if the states won’t plan to remove pollutants, they will put requirements in place to get the job done.

The meeting October 4, 2010, in JMU’s Grafton Stovall theater was well attended.

The home team: Russ Baxter (DEQ), Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources for Chesapeake Bay Restoration Anthony Moore, Russ Perkins, Al Pollock(DEQ)

The visitors, from the EPA, Bob Koroncai, Richard Batiuk and Jeff Corbin.

The discussion about the TMDL, the pollution diet, was very civilized. First there was careful exposition by the EPA regarding the TMDL. Then, a similar presentation by the Virginia officials outlining the State’s WIP (Watershed Implementation Plan) to address the clean(er) water goals.

The crowd listens attentively.

The final speaker before the question and answer period was Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Republican, 6th district. He upped the rhetorical ante.

Welcome everyone. I am very happy to see all of you here, not for this occasion but that you have come to show your concern about what is happening here in Virginia and elsewhere in the Chesapeake Bay Region, number one.
Number two, I want to congratulate you on the tremendous progress that farmers here in Virginia and elsewhere in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have made. You just saw very visual information about nitrogen and phosphorus usage in the region that has gone down substantially that has gone down substantially with a voluntary, incentivized program it has gone down substantially with state oversight of that rather than the United States Government stepping in with its heavy hand and I think we should keep it that way…

…You get a presentation like this tonight, and I appreciate the efforts of the State and I appreciate the concerns of the EPA as well, but no one has come forward with the cost benefit analysis to tell each and every one of you what it is going to cost you to get from that additional level that the State program provides for that you saw on the chart and the additional level below that.
Will they do that with sound sensible regulations or will they do it with arbitrary decisions made by people who know very little about your business or your operations? I think no one has a greater incentive to take care of the land and our waterways than the people who make their living off of it…

…You’ll be hearing from the Virginia Farm Bureau and you’ll be hearing from the Virginia Poultry Federation, the dairymen, the Virginia Cattleman’s Association. You’ll be hearing from the Virginia Homebuilders Association who are affected by this and you’ll probably hear from your local towns who are very worried about this as well. The proposal here, the towns will no longer just be filtering their sewage, coming through their community, but also the stormwater that runs off of peoples’ properties and down streets and so on, the cost of doing that is going to be astronomical.

I talked to a City Council member in Lynchburg yesterday in Lynchburg who told me that the estimate for the City of Lynchburg, a city of about 65,000 people, would be a hundred to three hundred million dollars in addition to all these changes they are having to make to their sewage treatment system right now.
This is an enormous burden on our state, it is going to hit farmers disproportionately hard, but its going to hit all of us and it is not well thought out…

There were no officials from Charlottesville or Albemarle in the crowd. Patrick Cooley, a real reporter, has the story in the News Virginian.

The League of Conservation Voters has given Congressman Goodlatte a score of Zero for his votes on environmental issues.

Comment on the State and EPA plans.

In the interest of equal time, we have heard Bob Goodlatte, lets hear from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Letter to editor that the Daily Progress wouldn’t publish.