Earth Day Offers Opportunity to Reflect

Earth Day Offers Opportunity to Reflect

Later this month, residents across Fairfax County will celebrate Earth Day and renew their commitment to protect our natural resources. As you do your part in your own homes and communities, I ask that you join with the County to support initiatives that will preserve these resources for the generations still to come.

As part of its Environmental Improvement Program, the County will continue its efforts to promote walkable communities and develop trail systems to connect them. We will encourage low impact development and increase tree conservation wherever possible. We will continue to promote telecommuting to improve air quality, and ensure that public parking spaces can accommodate electric vehicles. We will promote mixed use development near transit and encourage green building practices in new construction. We will continue to facilitate recycling, including fluorescent lamps, rechargeable batteries, and obsolete electronics at the popular monthly Electric Sundays.

Probably most important, however, we will continue and expand our efforts to protect our streams, the Potomac River, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay by implementing projects identified in our Watershed Plans and enforcing our recently passed Stormwater Ordinance.

Fairfax County is one of 150 counties, cities, and towns that were required by state and federal law to adopt new rules to prevent pollutants from entering into our streams and rivers.

This ordinance will shift the focus from simply detaining water, to treating stormwater before it flows off of a property during activities such as construction. The Stormwater Ordinance focuses on projects that disturb more than 2,500 square feet of land. It allows for exemptions and grandfathering in some cases to avoid being overly burdensome on homeowners. The vast majority of the ordinance, over 90 percent, addresses the specific requirements of the Commonwealth. For the remainder, the County worked closely with environmental groups, the community, and the building industry to develop local requirements and processes. The creation and implementation of the Stormwater Ordinance is one of the many ways that the Board of Supervisors has lead on environmental protection.

As an individual, you can take small steps in your own backyard. Replace some of your lawn with native plants, shrubs, and trees and don’t fertilize that lawn this spring; shop with reusable grocery bags and take advantage of locally grown produce at our farmers markets; fix dripping faucets and conduct an energy audit around your home and recycle whenever possible. You can also spend an afternoon at one of the Friends of Accotink Creek stream cleanups, or Audrey Moore RECenter clean up days in April and May. For more information on these programs or to learn how you can have an impact, please contact my office by emailing Small steps will help to ensure that Earth Day remains a reason to celebrate for our children and grandchildren.