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Fairfax Candidate Survey: Water and Stormwater

Candidates address questions related to water conservation and stormwater infrastructure.

Before getting to our third installment of the candidate survey, I want to remind everyone that three public candidate forums will be held over the next week at various locations in the city.  Times and locations are posted on the city web-site here. Note that the forum on the 12th is the only one that will be televised.

For the water and stormwater questions, candidates were provided the following statements…

Stormwater management is becoming a very critical issue for our community as well as others.  We will need to devise ways to pay for stormwater management and reduce stormwater runoff.

Water use and its treatment have many environmental and economic repercussions.  According to the projections in the draft Northern Virginia Regional Water Supply Plan, the City's water supply may be insufficient to meet demand by 2038.  Except during drought conditions, the City does not currently limit or even encourage reducing home lawn irrigation, car washing, etc, causing significant and harmful runoff into our streams.

The Connection Newspaper conducted a separate survey which addressed the potential to sell the city’s water supply services.  Responses to the entire Connection survey can be found here.

Following are the water and stormwater questions and responses from the City of Fairfax Citizens for Smarter Growth Survey…

Council Candidates:

Jeffrey Greenfield

Would you support amendments to the zoning ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff by promoting low impact development? 

YES

How do you plan to fund stormwater projects?

The City should consider supporting an increase of half cent for storm water to meet infrastructure and future storm water quality standards.

Would you support policies to encourage reduced water use?

YES

Please provide below your ideas on this issue. What policies would you bring forward to encourage reduced water use?

The city is examining alternatives for its water treatment facilities in Loudoun County.  Until the City Council makes a decision on that major issue, the city’s policy for water conservation is as follows: the city takes its water from Goose Creek in Loudoun.  The supply is plentiful except during the once-a-decade drought.  Except during drought, it is in the city’s interest, and in our water customer’s interest, to sell as much water as possible for a simple reason: it reduces cost. During the short lived droughts, the city has water conservation ordinances which are implemented to help our residents understand the need to conserve.

 

David Meyer

Would you support amendments to the zoning ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff by promoting low impact development? 

YES

How do you plan to fund stormwater projects?

I would support dedicating an additional one cent of our current revenue to accelerate planned improvements to our storm water management systems in the City.  These improvements can include, for example, the latest innovative designs for catch basins and designing SWM pools underground with pumps to recycle water for trees and ground surface replenishment.

Would you support policies to encourage reduced water use?

YES

Please provide below your ideas on this issue. What policies would you bring forward to encourage reduced water use?

The vast majority of residences in the City were built before 1990, and while many have been retrofitted with water-saving devices, substantial further improvements can be realized.  The City should consider citizen workshops and outreach sessions to inform residents of relative low-cost enhancements that can be made to reduce water consumption.  The Council should create a water conservation that would fund a matching incentive program (for example, up to $20) for each household to install water-saving devices.  Regarding water use for lawns, car washing, etc., continued education and outreach to encourage voluntary reductions in water use, even in the absence of drought conditions can reduce per capita water consumption.

 

Catherine Read

Would you support amendments to the zoning ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff by promoting low impact development? 

Uncertain

How do you plan to fund stormwater projects?

My research has shown there is quite a bit to stormwater management and it’s not as simple as “low impact development.”  This is a case where new methods for handling this are emerging and evolving and we shouldn’t shy away from trying new ideas.  Part of stormwater projects should come from developer proffers where there is new development or redevelopment involved.  I’m not enough of an expert on this to say exactly what I would do.  I would certainly research options thoroughly in every instance where the issue is brought forward.

Would you support policies to encourage reduced water use?

Uncertain

Please provide below your ideas on this issue. What policies would you bring forward to encourage reduced water use?

This is another complex issue with no easy or simple solutions.  In Australia where water is scarce, people have developed habits of conservation out of necessity.  Almost every home has a rain barrel and a method for catching run-off from the roof into the barrel for use in common household tasks.  It could easily be implemented here, but we need to motivate people to actually do it.  They take 10 minute showers, they hand wash dishes using very little water.  There are practical ways people could reduce their water consumption and we could help to implement them city wide.  Again, it’s more a matter of creating a campaign that resonates with people and gets them to change their habits.

 

Ellie Schmidt

Would you support amendments to the zoning ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff by promoting low impact development? 

YES

How do you plan to fund stormwater projects?

It leads back to the Comprehensive Development Plan.  Once it has been adopted, we must review and make appropriate updates to the zoning ordinance.  I support dedicated funding from the budget for the Stormwater Fund.

Would you support policies to encourage reduced water use?

YES

Please provide below your ideas on this issue. What policies would you bring forward to encourage reduced water use?

City Council adopted a resolution approving the Northern Virginia Regional Water Supply Plan as it pertains to the City of Fairfax in October of 2011.  I support public awareness initiatives to promote water conservation.  Encouraging the use of water saving technology in both household and commercial uses can help to preserve our water resources.

 

Steven Stombres

Would you support amendments to the zoning ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff by promoting low impact development? 

YES

How do you plan to fund stormwater projects?

The City of Fairfax will be required to make a significant investment in our stormwater management system in order to meet new state and federal regulations.

Last year, I supported the creation of a dedicated fund to provide for the adequate maintenance of and improvements to our aging stormwater system.  $403,000 was approved for this fund last year as part of our adopted budget, and this year I support the City Manger’s request to double that fund so that we are prepared to meet future stormwater quality standards.

In addition, I support the recommendation of the Environmental Sustainability Committee to work with other regional groups to coordinate future planning, identify preventative measures to reduce the release of sediment into the Accotink waterways, and examine new development proposals to minimize future stormwater flow.

Would you support policies to encourage reduced water use?

YES

Please provide below your ideas on this issue. What policies would you bring forward to encourage reduced water use?

For the past 50 years, the city has treated its own drinking water from its water treatment plant located in Loudoun County and transported it to the city via a water pipeline. All city residents currently pay a minimum charge of $23.92 quarterly for up to 5,000 gallons of water and a commodity rate of $4.57 for every 1,000 gallons used beyond the 5,000 gallon minimum.  This is basically a “pay for what you use” system that is a fair method of assessing costs for residential and commercial customers, but it does nothing to encourage water conservation.

 

Michael DeMarco

Would you support amendments to the zoning ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff by promoting low impact development? 

YES

How do you plan to fund stormwater projects?

In many ways this is related to Question #3. This is done by using the right development process which should include materials, plans and designs that manage stormwater. And to fund this we need public-private partnership. We can look for grants from the EPA or other fund sources and require a match from the applicant and/or developer.  

Would you support policies to encourage reduced water use?

YES

Please provide below your ideas on this issue. What policies would you bring forward to encourage reduced water use?

Water and food demand is an increasing global problem as our world population continues to grow. In the city and the region we need to do our part. I would institute a communication program to educate citizens of our near and long term realities on water supply and demand and encourage the community to reduce their water consumption. Awareness of the issue and the ramifications is critical to behavioral change.

 

Daniel Drummond

Would you support amendments to the zoning ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff by promoting low impact development? 

YES

How do you plan to fund stormwater projects?

The City of Fairfax has a long history of being leader in environmental sustainability, including supporting initiatives that will lower the impact of development. I certainly would be supportive of additional policies to help reduce stormwater runoff and better protect our watershed and natural resources.

Would you support policies to encourage reduced water use?

YES

Please provide below your ideas on this issue. What policies would you bring forward to encourage reduced water use?

Overall, water is a complex issue that we will be wrestling with over the next two years. I certainly would be supportive of policies that would encourage voluntary reductions in water use, including education campaigns. I also think we should look at revising our water pricing structure so that it could be tiered meaning that the more you use the more you pay, but conversely those who use less would pay less.

 

Mayoral Candidate:

Scott Silverthorne

Would you support amendments to the zoning ordinance to reduce stormwater runoff by promoting low impact development? 

YES

How do you plan to fund stormwater projects?

When I was last on the city council, the city funded storm water projects with approximately 2 cents on the tax rate; today that number is less than 1 cent.  The only way to keep ahead of these projects is to provide appropriate funding on a sustained basis.

Would you support policies to encourage reduced water use?

YES

Please provide below your ideas on this issue. What policies would you bring forward to encourage reduced water use?

I’ve always believed in water conservation.    One approach we recently learned about from staff was a ‘tiered’ approach for customers.   The more water you use, the more you pay for example.   Those who conserve, would actually see a reduction in water cost.   I believe this approach has merit.     Water is a complicated issue for the city and will continue to take a good deal of the city council’s time in the coming year.   

 to see what candidates had to say about Fairfax Boulevard and the Master Plan. to read their views on Old Town Fairfax.

Next Post: Solid Waste

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