Albemarle supervisors hear 14 new proposals for county’s stream health initiative

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 5:46 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2021 at 5:48 PM EST
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County’s stream health initiative is moving along. The Board of Supervisors heard 14 new proposals on how to improve its waterways Wednesday afternoon.

These proposals are broken down into three main categories: regulation, incentives, and educational opportunities. This sets the second phase of this multi-year initiative into motion.

“I really want to make sure, that through all of this discussion, that we’re looking at incentives and voluntary measures, but that that we’re also looking at regulatory actions that allow us to get at clean water and what we need to do in the rural area,” Jack Jouett District Supervisor Diantha McKeel said.

The 14 proposals covered a range of topics from updating zoning and water protection ordinances, conserving land, and encouraging school trips to streams and rivers. Several board members had questions about what stream buffers and defining pre-existing ordinance.

During the public input session of the meeting, Neil Williamson with the Free Enterprise Forum said the supervisors needed to measure the stream health plan alongside other comprehensive plan objectives.

“How will each of these well meaning environmental regulations impact the cost of housing in our community?” Williamson asked.

The initiative, which has been in the works since 2017, aims at protecting the natural streams and waterways in the county from damage and pollution. It also works to protect wildlife that depend on that water.

Kim Biasiolli, the county’s natural resource manager, says over half of streams and waterways tested in the county are listed as impaired, meaning the water does not meet a standard of quality for designated use.

“About 59% of the streams that have been tested are considered to be impaired, according to Virginia’s state standards for water quality,” she said. “We really have an impetus to really try to improve that number and do the best we can.”

Protecting the streams has economic benefits, taking action can prevent flooding which can be costly.

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