Category Archives: Waterways

Albemarle Supervisors deny landowners request to be exempt from new rules on clean fill

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has taken action on the first test of an ordinance adopted in the fall of 2020 to regulate the practice of importing dirt from construction sites and other excavations to agriculturally zoned land. 

“The fill regulations were developed to protect public health, safety, welfare, and those regulations were designed to limit the scale and impact on roads, the adjacent areas, noise, runoff,” said Bart Svoboda, the county’s zoning administrator. 

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City awards Schenks’s Branch contract

The city of Charlottesville will hire a North Carolina based company to restore the streambank of a waterway that runs through McIntire Park. KBS Earthworks won the contract through a competitive bidding process. 

“The Schenks’ Branch Tributary Project consists of a construction of a priority II and priority III stream restoration to stabilize 818 linear feet of existing impaired stream,” reads the project description in the construction documents that KBS Earthworks will implement. 

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Harmful algae bloom at Lake Anna

The Virginia Department of Health is asking people to avoid swimming in or contact with waters on the western side of Lake Anna and its tributaries due to the presence of a harmful algae bloom. 

“Samples collected at six sites on the Upper and Middle Pamunkey Branch, including Terry’s Run, and the Upper and Middle North Anna Branches indicated a cyanobacteria bloom with cell concentrations at unsafe levels,” reads a VDH update posted on Friday.

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Albemarle County Service Authority officials: No PFAS in municipal drinking water

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.”

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Environmental Protection Agency sounds warning about PFAS in drinking water

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.”

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Albemarle Supervisors to be asked to support reintroduction of James Spineymussel 

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.

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Fishkill reported in Meadow Creek 

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.”

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High bacteria levels in area stream

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

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Council adds Urban Rivanna River Plan to Comp Plan

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.

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