Occoquan Downzoning Successful In Protecting Water Quality


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12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187

Jan. 28, 2003

Occoquan Downzoning Successful In Protecting Water Quality

On July 26, 1982, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a downzoning of more than 41,000 acres in the Occoquan Watershed and additional stormwater runoff protections on 64,500 acres in order to protect one of the county’s most important natural resources – our drinking water. During 2002, the Board of Supervisors commemorated this action by honoring those citizens, county staff and agencies whose vision initiated and defended the action. Displays were created for “Celebrate Fairfax” and “Fall for Fairfax.” Informational brochures were distributed within the watershed, and a video was produced telling the remarkable story.

As part of the celebration, the Board appointed a task force to assess the impact of the 1982 action and what needs to be done in the future to continue to protect the county’s water quality. The New Millennium Occoquan Watershed Task Force presented its report - “Fulfilling the Promise: The Occoquan Watershed in the New Millennium” to the Board of Supervisors on Monday, Jan. 27, 2003.

In the first comprehensive review of Occoquan Watershed issues since the 1982 downzoning, the task force report evaluates the effectiveness of the downzoning and discusses who and what protects the Occoquan and the existing institutional and regulatory framework. An assessment of issues facing the reservoir and the Fairfax County portion of the watershed is included in the report and gaps in programs now being carried out by local, state and regional agencies are addressed. The report also considers the role of volunteer organizations that have interests in the watershed and includes recommendations for future management. Other subjects discussed include zoning, planning and existing land use content, the importance of open space and stream valley preservation in water quality protection, potential development both within and outside the R-C District, impervious surface, tree cover, erosion and sediment control, and onsite sewage disposal.

Did the 1982 action protect water quality in the reservoir and watershed? The report, supported by ongoing and recent research, says yes. Since only 17 percent of the watershed lies within Fairfax County, much needs to be done in the future, however, to maintain the water quality in the watershed. The Board of Supervisors has remained steadfast in their support of the downzoning and the protection of the watershed and reservoir, despite numerous legal challenges since 1982.

“We must remain vigilant,” states Board of Supervisors Chairman Kate Hanley. “A protected source of safe drinking water is an important part of the quality of life we enjoy in Fairfax County today.”

Copies of the report are available from Chairman Hanley’s office by calling 703-324-2321, TTY 703-324-2319 or by sending an e-mail message to chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov.

 


 

 

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