The ever-growing costs of pollution in the Chesapeake, Anacostia

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Two recent insightful articles by David A. Fahrenthold build on the tiresome history of broken promises pertaining to the rampant pollution in area watersheds.

The Feb. 1 Metro article "Cleanup idea for bay brings deluge of protests" said the debate between environmentalists and developers "could be an early test of the Chesapeake's actual political capital." The debate is over in Virginia, and the Chesapeake Bay came in dead-last. The "new [stormwater] rules approved by former governor Timothy M. Kaine," to which the article referred, were already heavily diluted last fall by state bureaucrats unable to withstand the lobbying might of the development industry. With the new Republican order in Richmond, even that small Band-Aid is threatened.

Mr. Fahrenthold's Feb. 2 Health article about the Anacostia River did readers a service by exposing the fallacy of the developers' argument that preventing stormwater runoff is too expensive. As he pointed out, it's pollution -- not prevention -- that's expensive. Virginia's improbity will not save money; it will only ensure that the expense of coping with the resulting pollution falls on the broad society, rather than upon those who caused it.

The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority's $2 billion plan to mitigate destruction that could have been avoided by proper on-site containment is just one tiny example.

John Haldeman, Williamsburg

The writer is vice chair of membership of the James City County Citizens' Coalition.

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