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Lovettsville’s David Ward and Chris VanVlack combined their talents to report on the County’s Water Resources based on samples from 2015. The report sums up the county’s precipitation, streamflow, groundwater flows, and surface and groundwater.

While the population of the county is over 364,000, it is expected that by about 2030, there will be 467,000 persons. When it comes to water quality, population density is not irrelevant.

The county has about 1,500 miles of perennial streams and it’s by knowing how much water flows and how much the flow varies over both short and long periods that one may assess floodplains, flood control, water structures, and environmental conditions. Stream gauges measure these stream characteristics and the results are forwarded by telemetry to the USGS – and can be found on the USGS web site for Loudoun County.

One such measurement is daily flow rate in Goose Creek near Leesburg that shows the rise and fall of the flow that is most affected, in the case of Goose Creek, by the rainfall at Dulles airport.

There are more than 14,500 active water supply wells in Loudoun. In fact, groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for the majority of residents in western Loudoun. There are wells that the County monitors for well depth (from 165 feet to 700 feet), rock type involved (fluvial, igneous intrusive, plutonic, etc.), and pairing the high and low points of the groundwater in each well.

The quality of the county’s water is measured using various metrics including chemical, microbiological and benthic macroinvertebrates.

Nutrient enrichment is a major cause of stream impairments and can cause low dissolved oxygen, fish kills, shifts in flora and fauna and nuisance algae. More than half of the samples collected contained high nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations.

In sampling for e coli pathogens 80 percent were above the limit for the recreation use of water. There are programs in place to reduce bacterial contamination including initiatives to repair or upgrade on site wastewater treatment systems.

Small organisms (mostly insect larvae) indicate by their tolerance of the water the quality of the water. This sampling indicated those streams that were excellent and those under extreme stress.

There are also large areas of the county that have elevated levels of iron and manganese, considered “aesthetic contaminants” as they do not adversely affect human health at the concentrations found in the county.

The one significant groundwater contamination in the entire county is the Hidden Lane Landfill in Northeast Loudoun and is on the EPA’s National Priorities List.

The most prevalent sources of potential groundwater pollution are the on-site wastewater treatment systems serving homes and small business in the rural areas of the county. There are about 15,000 such systems in the county. If properly installed, these systems are fine. But they are not all installed well or maintained properly. The report encourages testing to assure that these systems are functioning properly.

We have all been put on notice by what happened in Flint, Michigan that lead dissolves and contaminates water. Studies have shown there are a range of wells in the aggressive range of corrosivity that merit testing. The report identified Langelier Index values that indicate the degree of corrosivity. The overlay of lead presence on a geological mapping showed no correlation.

The recommended remedy is to have water samples taken to test private wells and not just for lead corrosivity.

In short, the report is both interesting and important. It confirms the need for vigilance among homeowners and businesses in an ever increasingly denser county in order to assure the quality of our water.

The report can be accessed at https://www.loudoun.gov/DocumentCenter/View/126214.

John Flannery

District Director at the Loudoun Soil & Water Conservation District


JLS - I never added an adjective to the discription of the Chinese policy, I simply described the policy, and the relationship of that policy to water use/quality for a population.  I do think it is fair to say that the OUTCOME of that policy - it greatly curbed the trajectory of the population rate/numbers they were forecasting if no such restriction on child bearing were instituted - was a positive one. The policy achieved the goal. 

Let me ask you this - at what point is not humane to bring another human life into a world that is decaying, dying, and unhealthful due to environmental hazards? Is PREVENTION not the humane thing? The policy was one of PREVENTION.

You still provided no facts to your claims.

Robert, I didn’t say you did say “good policy”; I said you “suggested” it was a good policy, which you’ve solidified in your follow-up post. 

This is why extreme environmentalists are dangerous ... they value “saving the environment” over saving human lives.  Pathetic!

JLS - where did I say it was a “good policy”? I said it allowed them to make a choice - continued population increases or societal demise due to the effects of that over-population. From what I’ve read, the law did what it was supposed to do, reduce the rate of population growth to something that the environment and resources could sustain. Technology and affluence increases allowed the law to be changed to 2 children, in conjunction with the effect of the prior generation restriction to 1 child, which stabilized the rate of population increase at least for the current generation.

No, I don’t know how many baby girls where killed; what are your facts? They chose to make a law of PREVENTION, and while procreation is certainly different than jay-walking, it was their law. Do I agree w/ infanticide in any realm? No. But I respect their decision to take control of their own destiny, and make a very hard public policy choice that actually made the lives of all the citizens better. In the US, political leaders make policies that serve those who support them, or those who are vocal, but not the most vulnerable. I respect societies who have values not dominated or defined by individual wealth.  If one votes for a politician only to have them act in a way which earns you more money, I think our whole construct of representative democracy is in shambles.

Density and Flannery in the same piece I thought they were talking about what’s missing.

Smith… To suggest that China’s 1-child policy was a good policy is insane.  Do you know how many baby girls were killed and/or abandoned because of that awful policy?  Do you care?

Yes - curb the demand for, or curb the use of, the resource.  We could apply that adage to many, many things. Water; gasoline; automobiles; weapons; wood products. And there is one factor that immediately and drastically affects both demand and use - people. China’s one-child (now, two-child) policy allowed that country to take control of what would have been a ‘natural’ disaster on their domestic resources due to projected population amounts that would have literally outgrown the ability to provide for that population. 

So, as the population continues to increase at the ‘natural(ly)’ high rate that we’ve seen for about 2 generations now, we can either curb our appetite for clean water, find more resource to serve both current and future demand/users, or slack our demand. Or we could do all 3. All have their own requirements of change that our society is immune to making. If John is correct, the time will come when it’s too late for policies, and strict measures will be foisted on us all, for the common good and survival of the whole. Harsh to think of, especially when we could work today to make sure that day never comes to fruition.

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