On Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued non-binding health advisories on the presence of certain chemicals that do not break down. Yesterday, the environmental compliance specialist for the Albemarle County Service Authority told that entity’s Board of Directors that the municipal water supply is set up to filter out per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
But first, Tim Brown explained there are thousands of different chemical combinations that were created to make products that are water-resistant, heat-resistant, and grease-resistant.
“Every chemical is distinct by the fact that the element fluorine is a component of the chemical, and the carbon-fluorine chemical bond is a very very strong one,” Brown said. “What does that mean? It means this chemicals do not break down in the environment.”
The United States Environmental Protection Agency today has issued four advisories on the potential for “forever chemicals” in water supplies. The term PFAS covers per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances which are used in the manufacture of many products people use every day such as non-stick cookware, food packaging, electronics, and more. These substances do not break down and can accumulate in the human body and blood over many years and have been linked to cancer and diseases that affect the immune system.
The four advisories are for specific substances.
“The updated advisory levels [for PFOA and PFOS], which are based on new science and consider lifetime exposure, indicate that some negative health effects may occur with concentrations of PFOA or PFOS in water that are near zero and below EPA’s ability to detect at this time,” reads a press release announcing the steps. “The lower the level of PFOA and PFOS, the lower the risk to public health.”
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources is working on a plan to restore an endangered freshwater mollusk back into the James River watershed from which it has perished.
On Wednesday, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will vote on a resolution giving their support to efforts to introduce the James Spineymussel into the Rivanna River as well as the James River.
“Existing JSM populations have been augmented in six streams in Amherst, Bath, Buckingham, Botetourt, and Nelson Counties, but to truly recover this endangered species, the mussel also needs to be reintroduced to waterbodies from which it has been lost,” reads the staff report.
The City of Charlottesville has reported the deaths in late March of hundreds of fish and other aquatic life in a section of Meadow Creek. Scientists with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality evaluated the location near Cedars Court and found 842 dead fish, 130 dead salamanders, and 40 dead worms.
“Despite further exploration of potential sources by City staff, no source or responsible party has been identified,” reads the announcement that was sent out Friday afternoon. “It is likely that this is a case of illegal dumping of a chemical or toxic product.”
Charlottesville is warning the public to stay out of Pollocks Branch between Elliott Avenue and Rockland Avenue due to elevated levels of E. coli. Pollocks Branch is a waterway that travels south from downtown Charlottesville and is one of many locations monitored by the Rivanna Conservation Alliance.
“E. coli is a type of fecal coliform bacteria and when it is found in water, it is a strong indicator of sewage or animal waste contamination which can cause disease or illness,” reads an announcement from the city.
The Charlottesville City Council has officially adopted a plan to guide environmental protections along the urbanized portion of the Rivanna River. The Urban Rivanna Corridor Plan is now a referenced part of the city’s 2021 Comprehensive Plan.
“It’s past time but I’m glad we’re getting to it now finally to begin to recognize the fact that the Rivanna River is an asset to Charlottesville and is not merely a barrier,” said Charottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook.
A plan to guide future development on both sides of the Rivanna River has been reviewed by one of the two localities and will go before the other tonight. Albemarle Supervisors learned the details of the plan at their meeting on February 2. Sandy Shackelford is the director of planning and transportation for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District and she provided a geographic reference. (read the draft)
“It’s the portion of the Rivanna River corridor that is 4.3 miles long,” Shackleford said. “It spans from Pen Park as the northern terminus to I-64 as the southern terminus.”
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is investigating a petroleum seep that is affecting an unnamed tributary of Moores Creek, according to the city of Charlottesville.
“The suspected responsible party, Charlottesville Tire & Auto, is working with DEQ to mitigate the impact to the tributary,” reads a press release. “A subsurface investigation to confirm the source of the release is ongoing.”
The Rivanna Conservation Alliance has issued its annual stream health report based on water quality monitoring from 2018 through 2021. Based on their data, the number of impaired streams increased. (read the report)
“The percentage of our sampled streams that failed to meet water quality standards for aquatic life grew from 68 percent in last year’s report to 82 percent in this one,” reads the report.
The Commonwealth now has a plan in place to address sea rise and other hydrological issues caused by a changing global climate. Yesterday outgoing Governor Ralph Northam was on hand in Hampton for the release of the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan.
“Climate change, rising sea levels, sinking land, and storms that are more frequent and more extreme are really causing increased problems in coastal communities,” Northam said. “What we call nuisance flooding is now a regular occurrence.”