Connecting the dots on stream health

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Here are two local news stories, plus a proposition.

Story number one has to do with the health of local streams. 70 percent of streams in the Rivanna River Basin are officially impaired. That dismal statistic is set to get even worse, as a third of the streams that are healthy now will become impaired within two decades if we continue our current development patterns. Folks around here tend to feel that we live in a fairly bucolic place (compared to, say, NoVa) but, at least according to stream health, things aren’t so rosy.

Story number two, right on cue, has to do with the approval of yet another Albemarle housing development. The Dunlora Forest project would include 90 new homes. Notice that the dissent seems to focus on an increase in car traffic–but meanwhile, this development requires a critical slopes waiver, an exception to an environmental protection that directly impacts the health of waterways. The story mentions that, right across the street, another 90-home development is already under construction. And this area lies right between Meadow Creek and the Rivanna River!

So here’s the proposition. Let’s connect the dots. If we continue building and paving and cutting down trees, our waterways will not improve. (I know, I know: Dunlora Forest falls within the county’s development area. Tell that to the fish!) There is a surplus of existing homes for sale right now. There are more than enough places to shop. The radical idea would be to prioritize ecology, and halt new development until–let’s be conservative–a mere 40 percent of our streams were unhealthy.

There’s your crazy talk for the week.

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