Brother, could you spare a glass of water?

waterglass - 1We are not at the point where we’re out of water.

The supply of ground water for our wells, however, is not infinite.

The question experts are raising is, “Do we have enough ground water in Loudoun to meet the current demand and the ‘new’ development discussed in the County, especially for Western Loudoun?”

Fauquier County is concerned about its ground water supply for its wells given the increased development that burdens its aquifers and compromises their ability to re-charge.

This summer, the USGS issued a “groundwater resource assessment” for Fauquier, outlining how best to sustain Faiquier County’s Water Supply.

Loudoun County has a similar profile, contemplating another 50,000 residential units, referenced in its recently issued ENVISION report.

Does Loudoun have sufficient water resources to support such aggressive residential development?

While most of any new residential units may be served by Loudoun Water and the towns, there could be as many as an additional 11,000 homes in the Rural Policy area.  That can only mean that thousands of new private wells will be drilled, adding to the existing 15,000 wells.

Fauquier is a rapidly growing suburban area near Washington, D.C., encompassing parts of three distinct geologic provinces that are underlain by fractured-rock aquifers that are currently relied upon to supply about 3.9 million gallons a day of groundwater for public supply and domestic use.

Loudoun is not that different.  Continue reading

Delegate Dave LaRock no show for Farm Bureau

Tia Walbridge In the past, Delegate David LaRock, who represents the 33rd District in the General Assembly, has failed to show for political debates and joint forums with his general election opponents.

Off to a shaky start this political season, Delegate LaRock is a no-show for the Farm Bureau’s Candidate Forum scheduled for September 19, 6PM, at Harmony Hall at the Hamilton Fire Station; he first committed to participate and then said he wouldn’t.

Mr. LaRock apparently doesn’t want to be in the same room at the same time as his Democratic challenger.

Tia Walbridge is a farmer herself.

By contrast, Mr. LaRock is a builder.

Chris Van Vlack. the President of the Loudoun Farm Bureau, said, “the Candidates Forum is part of our Loudoun Farm Bureau Annual membership meeting.”

Asked if Mr. LaRock said he would appear at the forum, Mr. Van Vlack said, “Initially both Tia [Walbridge] and Dave [Larock] had confirmed their attendance, but after learning that the state AgPAC committee had not solely endorsed him, Del. LaRock had decided to drop out.” Continue reading

Jim Crow legislature protected Confederate States

General_Assembly_1902We have an opinion from Virginia’s Attorney General that a statute passed by the Jim Crow General Assembly in 1902-04, and in its various iterations since, protects the offending Confederate soldier statues around the Commonwealth including the confederate soldier statue in Leesburg, erected in 1908, hefting his rifle, pointed toward all persons approaching the County courthouse.

The Attorney General states that “[t]he historical antecedent” was passed by the General Assembly in February 1904, providing that such a monument could not be “disturbed” and had to be “protected.”

The Attorney General in an advisory opinion states that we should make “a careful investigation of the history and facts concerning a particular monument in a given locality.”

Rather, we should investigate “the history and the facts” of the racially intolerant legislators who passed this law in 1902-04, as part of a constitutionally impermissible schema, calculated to offend and suppress blacks in Virginia.

In 1902, our elected representatives with too few dissenters to matter sought “to purify” the ballot box, to chill and bar blacks from exercising the franchise, and to discourage the belief that it was a self-evident truth that all men and women were created equal.

Virginia created a distasteful constitution in 1902 with the express objective of restoring white supremacy.

Presiding over Virginia’s constitutional convention in 1902, John Goode said that the 15th amendment, providing for African American suffrage, was “a stupendous blunder” and “a crime against civilization and Christianity.” Continue reading

The conscience of an American

Birmingham_fire_hoses_1963When I was 14, my friends and I were playing at Richard’s tenement apartment in the South Bronx, and Richard’s Mom asked quietly if I would leave and get my friends to go as well.

I must have looked puzzled when I said I would because Richard’s Mom said in a whisper, “You can come back later but don’t bring Stevie.”

Stevie was black.  He was one of my friends.

It was my first encounter with racism.

This is how an individual conscience awakens to bigotry.

In the neighborhood, among us kids, we were from lower middle class families, nobody had gone past High School, not the parents, nor the kids, we were a mixed lot of Irish, Italian, Jewish, Black and Puerto Rican boys mostly.

We played stickball, sewer to sewer, hand ball, swung from the hanging ladders off the fire ‘scapes at street level, ran up and down alleys, through basements and court yards.

We were friends with unnoticed differences, who talked trash, had fist fights, but got along.

Senator Patrick Moynihan might have considered us a species of his “melting pot” but we were hardly homogenous.  We celebrated our differences while remaining companionable.

There’s a lyric in the musical, South Pacific, that “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear.”  We neither did hate nor fear. Continue reading

Pipe dream or nightmare?

Work on the MVP pipeline

Work on the MVP pipeline

Last Saturday, Lovettsville residents and citizens from across Virginia and other states as far away as Georgia, traveled to the Bears’ Den on the Appalachian trail on the Loudoun County side of Mount Weather, to share the view that fracked gas pipelines must be stopped and the scenic trail saved from “desecration.”

The folks who came were young and old, some ordinarily political partisans, but they came together, despite their differences, resolved to stop these pipelines.

If there could be any doubt about what they “really” thought, they posed with a mock 1-foot diameter pipeline segment, “inscribed,” “NO FRACKING PIPELINE.”

It was only a hint of the EQT and Nextra’s proposed 300-mile $3.2-Billion Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a pipe almost four feet in diameter, carrying dangerous odorless fracked gas from West Virginia that threatens the trail and the environment.

There were testaments from the speakers, objecting to taking the land by eminent domain, and complaints about the proposed pipe’s adverse effects including air pollution, soil erosion, groundwater contamination, terrible noise levels, lowered property values, and possible onsite accidents including gas explosions like has already occurred in Appomattox, Virginia.

If the pipeline is sited as presently proposed, speakers charged, it shall destroy once and forever the natural view shed along 100 miles of the 2,200-mile scenic Appalachian Trail, including Angels Rest, Kelly Knob, Rice Fields and Dragons Tooth — among the most visited and photographed locations on the entire trail that extends from Georgia to Maine. Continue reading

The disposable planet – and its people

jonflan-blueearth - 1As a people, we are suffering the twin insanities of our Chief Executive, Mr. Donald Trump, who has insisted on pursuing two separate paths that promise to destroy our planet and ourselves.

First, our “Commander in Chief”, and another mad world leader from Korea, improvised a bullying chest-beating duet of world-shattering war threats, from the slippery edge of an existential precipice, promising to hurl nuclear fire upon the world, and to kill countless innocents.

Second, our “Chief Executive,” Mr. Trump, belittled every other nation in the world and refused to honor a hard fought international agreement on climate change that the United States had signed.  Mr. Trump also dismantled air and water safeguards and denied that humans have in any way caused the planet to heat from fossil fuel emissions.

Each of us is a furnace of life, warmed within a sheaf of skin, at 98 degrees Fahrenheit, with a strong will to survive.

But too many of us defer to leaders, trusting them to do what’s best for us and the world’s survival when we now know they are doing nothing of the sort.

Our leaders take the corporate contributions of fossil fuel predators and vote their way, insisting that we not trust our senses that that’s what they are doing, even as they do it at the cost of our health and safety and survival.  In the bargain, they stall cleaner, safer renewable energy sources. Continue reading

RESIST!

20727825_10211469112177129_2338922944344859283_nHistory teaches us what happens when you don’t resist hate groups including Nazis.

Especially those who conduct torch marches and carry clubs in the streets of a university town – screaming insults against blacks and Jews – striking out and clubbing those who object to their intolerance – one supremacist even running over and through a crowd, killing one young lady simply crossing the street.

We saw the courage of the counter demonstrators who objected to these Nazis and these people, both young and old, these protesters, they are American heroes – for standing up to hate, and doing so in the best tradition of what is America.

It is heartwarming that in Virginia, our Governor and Democrats across the Commonwealth recoiled at the acts of the white supremacists.

It’s chilling and gravely disappointing, however, that Mr. Donald Trump and local Republicans failed to criticize the supremacists, thus giving aid and comfort to this pathogen in the body politic – brought to life by the intolerance of the man who would be our Chief Executive – who followed in lock step by Republican office holders.

Now our nation on the “morning after,” on Sunday, scans the reaction of other nation states, and is seen before the world, and rightly perceived, as a nation with its ugly underbelly exposed.

Each of us who knows what we were and can be again as a nation and a people.

We have a sad and depressed dread after Charlottesville at how, in such a short time, chaos and violence have supplanted the rule of law in this nation, and how this Administration and its lack of values and thuggish manner has brought us to this low point.

Enough!

The Democratic Convention, 1984

The Democratic Convention, 1984

In 1984, I was running for Congress, was the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 10th Congressional district, and found myself standing on the floor of the Democratic convention in San Francisco, just as New York Governor Mario Cuomo challenged the convention and the nation to get on with the business of the American people.

We are in about the same position today – although the late Governor Cuomo might find it’s much worse were he with us – given the bluffing, bravado, dissembling, firing, misconduct, lying, intolerance, war mongering and congressional grid lock – that’s paralyzed the public’s business.

The Republican Caucus in the Senate and the House are not working to solve our problems; they are creating problems, spending most of the congressional session since the election bowing and scraping before the demands of their wealthy contributing patrons at the expense of the many hard working men and women they ignore.

Governor Cuomo said in 1984 that Republicans believe our nation “should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest,” so that “what falls from the table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class.”

Callous indifference toward the many has been the hallmark of this Republican Caucus.

Front and center is the “health care” effort that so far proposes to give massive funds – in the form of tax breaks for the rich – offset by cutting the needed funds for health care for millions of the sick and dying.

No question, Republicans treat Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as a foolish notion, that the meek shall ever inherit the earth.

Their Darwinian default is that the fittest survive and there is no exception for the fragile or vulnerable, not the ill, the disabled, more generally, not any one deemed “unfit.” Continue reading

A nation on the mend?

capitaldawn - 1Our Chief Executive, Mr. Donald Trump, and the Republican Caucus, headed up by Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan, have run together as only the worst pairing in a three-legged race could.

Mr. Trump strikes out at his “partners” while the 3-legged race is in progress, hurling slanders and trash talk at his “trusted” aides and Senate “allies.”

The undignified and repeated bashing of various public and elected officials follows closely on Mr. Trump having earlier extolled the same persons in the most oleaginous phrasing.

Many suffer cognitive whiplash if they take Mr. Trump’s twitterings seriously.

Our unseemly Senate debate in the Republican Caucus has gone on for months weighing how much we’ll pay for war and a wall and reducing taxes for the rich at the expense of providing affordable health care to millions of Americans who will be ill or die without the care.

James Madison, in Federalist 49, cautioned that we need to be wary of a government composed of three departments, designed to check and balance each other, if ever two of those three Departments become dominated by the same faction.

Madison referenced Thomas Jefferson’s concerns that “the weaker departments of power” be able to withstand “the invasions of the stronger” and, if two Departments become so strong and unified, Jefferson insisted we must convene to alter or correct our constitution.

If the people are “the only legitimate fountain of power,” then such an encroachment requires “an appeal to the people themselves …”

Madison conceded that “every appeal to the people … carr[ies] an implication of some defect in the government.” Continue reading

A natural hero – Anne Larson

Anne Larson – a surprised honoree

Anne Larson – a surprised honoree

Among the wonderful encomiums lavished on Anne Larson this past Saturday was that, if it weren’t for Anne, the entire gathering couldn’t meet in her old Taylorstown frame shop to honor her because many years earlier the Army Corps of Engineers had wanted to submerge the area under 81 feet of water; Anne firmly resolved to fight the effort and to achieve what few thought possible.  But Anne would be the first to tell you, she didn’t do it alone.  No one could.

The Catoctin Creek originates in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western Loudoun County, flows northeasterly through the Piedmont, hugs the area around Taylorstown, finally emptying in the Potomac north of Leesburg.

Catoctin Creek snakes along under the Taylorstown Road en route to the Potomac

Catoctin Creek snakes along under the Taylorstown Road en route to the Potomac

Emerson once wrote, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

Judging from the gathering, not only does Anne inspire and lead others, she found fertile ground in the community in the mid-1970s to form a far-flung ensemble of concerned and quite talented friends and neighbors who, together, made a dramatic difference, after a hard fought campaign, of defeating the Army Corps of Engineers.

This should give heart to anyone who seeks to resist a poorly conceived public policy.

In mid-1974, the Fairfax County Water Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided that Catoctin Creek was a prime candidate for a dam and reservoir to impound water for a 7-day supply for the Washington, DC area during drought periods.

The plan was to flood more than 3,000 acres of Loudoun County, including Taylorstown, and part of Waterford.

In opposition, the community fought to establish the Catoctin Creek as “scenic,” have Taylorstown added to the National Register, and amend Virginia’s eminent domain statute so that another jurisdiction, DC in this case, would be barred from “taking” land or water to create a dam or reservoir.

In the end, this plan of action enjoyed wide support among regional and local papers and an array of public officials, stopping the Army Corps of Engineer dead in its watery tracks.

Friends and neighbors gather to honor Anne (right, foreground)

Friends and neighbors gather to honor Anne (right, foreground)

Anne has since made her participation in the Catoctin Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee her personal mission, to resist inimical intrusions on the creek, to protect game birds and stream dwellers, and to encourage tree and bush planting, so that there is a “riparian buffer” to guard against erosion and to provide food and habitat for wildlife.

David Ward, a prominent hydrology expert, and Advisory Committee Member, gave a demonstration at the Creek focused on how and why you measure flow and the health of any Creek.

The rate of flow of a stream or creek plainly relates to water supply management, pollution control, irrigation, flood control, energy generation, and industrial uses.

The Catoctin Creek flows freely under a bridge near the Taylorstown store and some outdoor enthusiasts care to know if the water is moving fast enough with deep enough channels to put a canoe in the water.

David used a technique called the “one-orange method” to measure the rate of flow.  But David didn’t use an orange.  He preferred to use a yellow rubber ducky.

David Ward leads a demonstration on creek flow

David Ward leads a demonstration on creek flow

With the orange method, you submerge the orange to the bottom of the stream at the deepest vertical location you can find (and reach), and release the orange.  You see how long it takes for the orange to travel 16 feet down stream, and the calculation is simply the ratio of distance divided by time yielding the rate of flow.  You ordinarily repeat this several times to get a reliable estimate.

But David replaced the orange with a phalanx of yellow rubber ducks.

 

 

 

David Ward waits to make the measure of flow in the Creek

David Ward waits to make the measure of flow in the Creek

“I find that youngsters and adults alike have more fun with little yellow ducks,” said David, “so, we’re replacing the oranges to the same effect.  I’d say the rough estimate of the flow we’re observing for this demonstration today is about 2 feet a second, pretty quick.  But this exercise is less about measurement and more about understanding the principle, how we measure flow.”

Even in the shadow of an impending rainstorm, the flow was free of eddies, slack water or noticeable turbulence.

Another indication of the health of a stream, David showed, was what small creatures are able to live and thrive in the waters.  At a glance, David reached into the Creek and picked up a cray fish to show the signs of a lively Catoctin Creek.  Of course, there is a more formal technique – https://vimeo.com/180512135 .

crayfish

Advisory Committee Co-Chairs David Nelson and Bruce Johnson kept secret the special awards they arranged for Anne.

 

 

Advisory Committee Co-Chairs David Nelson and Bruce Johnson

Advisory Committee Co-Chairs David Nelson and Bruce Johnson

They planned to honor Anne secretly for what she had done so publicly.

 

 

 

 

An amazing amusing illustration to honor Anne Larson – by Mike Caplanis

An amazing amusing illustration to honor Anne Larson – by Mike Caplanis

Judy Ross presented Anne with an amazing amusing satirical illustration, a caricature of Anne, as “Empress for a day,” and the assembled friends and neighbors lifted champagne glasses to toast Anne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The festivities concluded with a champagne toast

The festivities concluded with a champagne toast

“This surely was a surprise,” Anne said.