Arlington, VA

This week’s devastating flash floods may be evidence of a bigger weather pattern shift, some experts say.

The storm that pummeled the Arlington dumped 3.3 inches of rain in one hour Monday morning, breaking the regional record. Some experts say this is part of a larger pattern of wetter weather — and possibly climate change.

The so-called supercell developed in Frederick County, Virginia, where NWS Meteorologist Jason Elliott says cool, dry winds from the north met with warm, wet winds from the south. From there the storm — which was about the side of Montgomery County, Md. — travelled about 20 miles per hour towards southern Maryland.

Unfortunately for Arlington, the heaviest part of the storm travelled down the Potomac River — straight through Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria and D.C. — overwhelming stormwater management systems and filling streets, homes, and businesses with water.

When a rainstorm hits, the runoff water not absorbed into the ground travels into the county’s stormwater pipes. However, too much water can fill the pipes, and flow out of manholes and storm drains.

“Water will then flow underneath of a road or a bridge and a stream will fill up and flow on top of a road or culvert,” said Aileen Winquist, Arlington’s Stormwater Management Program Manager. “That’s where damage can occur.”

Monday’s storm not only turned streams and streets into raging rapids, but also caused sewage backups in homes. Winquist said this is usually caused by water flooding sewer pipes and coming up through the floor drains in basements. It’s a problem residents in Westover and elsewhere face as they continue to recover from the flooding.

The county’s storm and sewer systems are overall in “good condition”, Winquist said, and crews continuing to repair corroded storm pipes and re-line old sewer pipes as needed.

“Typically the storm sewer system is designed for what’s known as a 10 year storm,” she added, referring the federal classification of a storm that has a 10% chance of occurring once every 10 years.

“It was easily raining 5 inches in an an hour, for half an hour,” said Elliot. “And nothing can handle something that heavy in that short a period of time.”

The county keeps a detailed map of every location in Arlington damaged in a flood and uses it prepare for future emergencies and prioritize routine repairs. Winquist declined to share a copy of the map, citing privacy concerns, but noted that Westover was not among the neighborhoods filled with water during Arlington’s last major flood back in 2006.

New flood plains can be caused by a variety of factors, such as problems with the storm water pipes or nearby development projects. But there’s also the issue of storms getting stronger and wetter.

Read More

0 Comments

This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

We need your input to help refine the draft Community Energy Plan.

Ask questions, get answers and make your voice heard. If you care about climate action and Arlington’s sustainability journey, this event is for you! Snacks will be provided.

Please join use at Central Library this Tuesday!

Community Energy Plan Open House:

Date: June 4
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Central Library Auditorium

Our lives are increasingly reliant on ever more energy. Air conditioning and heating, lighting, electric cars, tablets and smart phones, TVs and game consoles, and so much more. Energy is a key enabler of humanity’s progress.

It is also linked to global greenhouse gas increases and associated impacts that were recently detailed in the latest UN Climate Report.

The Rethink Energy program is Arlington’s climate action program and is moving the needle on energy efficiency, solar power, green building and more.

Why do we need a Community Energy Plan?

Arlington’s Community Energy Plan was first adopted in 2013. In the same way that Arlington’s smart growth journey was built upon land-use planning and transit, energy planning is the critical next layer to support Arlington’s evolution as a sustainable community.

Arlington County is updating the Community’s Energy Plan. This Plan is ambitious in its scope, but practical in its aims. Residents and businesses can expect a variety of benefits as we work to finalize this long-term plan:

  • Reducing energy costs that will save residents and businesses money
  • Generating energy locally with the use of renewables and other technologies
  • Reaching our carbon reduction goals by 2050

Please join us on June 4 at the Community Energy Plan Open House!

The draft Community Energy Plan update can be found here. An executive summary of the proposed changes can be found here.

0 Comments

This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

This week we are highlighting an upcoming event sponsored by EcoAction Arlington, Coalition for Smarter Growth and Encore Learning.

On April 9 from 7-9:00 p.m., former Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will present Al Gore’s compelling slide deck on the climate crisis. Mr. Fisette will then facilitate a panel featuring:

  • Demetra McBride, Bureau Chief, Arlington County Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management
  • Timothy DelSole, George Mason University Professor and co-Chief Editor of the Journal of Climate
  • Paul Bledsoe, Progressive Policy Institute and national media contributor on climate policy and politics
  • Scott Sklar, President of the Stella Group and an expert on clean energy technologies.

The panel will cover the challenges we face, progress made and the path forward. What is Arlington doing to respond to climate change? What is the Green New Deal? And what is the status of batteries and EVs?

This event is free and open to all, but space is limited. Register here.

0 Comments

Earlier this week the Arlington County Board approved a resolution expressing the county’s commitment to fighting climate change and upholding the Paris Climate Agreement.

One could argue that fighting climate change starts with local action and that, at the very least, there is positive symbolic value in the county’s resolution.

One could also argue that despite passage of its Community Energy Plan in 2013, there’s little Arlington County can legally do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, beyond providing incentives for greater energy efficiency in buildings.

What do you think? Should the County Board be taking the time to address the issue of climate change?

Photo by Tyler Zarfoss

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Advertising for Capital Bikeshare? — The Arlington County Board has approved a policy that would allow an advertising sponsorship for Capital Bikeshare. A corporate sponsorship of the regionwide system could generate $750,000 over five years for Arlington County, which would be used to support, expand and promote the system in Arlington. [Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]

Board Approves Climate Resolution — The County Board last night approved a resolution expressing the county’s commitment to fighting climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting energy efficiency. The resolution also states “that Arlington County supports the principles of the Paris Agreement and will continue to… advance action in accordance with the goals outlined in [it].” [Arlington County]

Arlington Taking Action to Attract Pollinators — Workers planted flowering plants in Arlington yesterday as part of a joint effort to attract more pollinators — insects like bees and butterflies. The environmentally-friendly effort was sponsored by the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation, NOVA Parks and Dominion. [WJLA]

Arlington to Update Resource Protection Map — Arlington County will hold public hearings on updating its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” said a press release. “It will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders.” [Arlington County]

Photos from Crystal City Car Show — The annual Crystal City Fathers Day Auto Festival was held this past weekend and featured more than 100 cars. This year the show was organized in part by Carsfera.com. [Facebook]

Williamsburg Neighborhood Plan Updated — The County Board has approved an update to the Neighborhood Conservation Plan for Arlington’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Per a press release: “Residents made recommendations for improving traffic and pedestrian safety, maintaining the neighborhood’s character, protecting the tree canopy and improving neighborhood parks.” [Arlington County]

First Day of Summer — Today is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. [Capital Weather Gang, Vox]

Photo courtesy Valerie O’Such

0 Comments

(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Arlington County just announced that it has joined other counties, cities, businesses and colleges in signing an open letter pledging to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

President Trump announced last week he will withdraw the United States from the pact to help preserve American jobs and avoid placing heavy burdens on the country’s taxpayers. The decision brought swift condemnation from local elected officials.

County leaders joined on Monday (June 5) an open letter to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement entitled, “We Are Still In.” The letter promises that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will continue, regardless of federal policy.

“Arlington stands with communities across our nation and around the globe who recognize that climate change is real and that we must, both on the local and on the global level, meet its adverse effects with strong, effective action,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “Just as we joined the Compact of Mayors in 2015 and agreed to set goals for reductions in greenhouse gases, so do we join the effort today of local communities that are pledging to uphold the Paris Agreement, even if the federal government does not.”

The District of Columbia has also signed on to the pact and Virginia joined a similar state effort this week.

In light of President Trump’s decision, the County Board will consider a resolution at its June 17 meeting reaffirming Arlington’s commitment to combating climate change.

In a press release, the county touted its efforts already in the fight against climate change:

Arlington County adopted a forward-thinking Community Energy Plan (CEP) in June 2013, as an element of our Comprehensive Plan. The award-winning plan is a long-term vision for transforming how Arlington generates, uses and distributes energy. Its goal-setting and methods of achievement are consistent with the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda and the Paris Accord. Arlington’s CEP aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2050, and greenhouse gas emissions already have fallen 18 percent in Arlington between 2007 and 2015.

In 2015, Arlington signed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Energy and Climate, sponsored by the Compact of Mayors – open to any city or town in the world willing to meet a series of requirements culminating in the creation of a full climate action and adaptation plan.

In 2012, Arlington exceeded our goal of reducing government-wide energy usage by 10 percent, using the year 2000 as a baseline. Currently, we’re competing in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge to reduce municipal building energy usage by 20 percent by 2020.

Our Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) helps our community make smart decisions about energy and supports individual actions that improve and sustain Arlington’s quality of life. County government buys more than 30 percent of its electricity as certified green power and buys carbon offsets against 100 percent of its natural gas use. Arlington is home to Discovery Elementary, the largest “net zero energy” elementary school east of the Mississippi River.

At its meeting in June, the County Board will consider a resolution reaffirming Arlington’s commitment to combating climate change and to the goals of our Community Energy Plan.

Arlington will continue to work to make our County more prosperous, healthful, safe and secure through its efforts to rethink energy and protect the environment.

For more information about Arlington’s environmental initiatives and efforts to reduce energy usage and energy costs, visit the County website.

0 Comments

Minutes after President Trump announced his decision to abandon the Paris Climate Agreement, Virginia elected officials began to share their disapproval.

Trump said his decision to withdraw from the pact, signed by 195 nations, would help preserve American jobs and avoid placing heavy burdens on the country’s taxpayers.

Rep. Don Beyer (D), who represents Arlington in the House of Representatives, highlighted how Trump’s decision to withdraw will negatively impact the United States’ foreign relationships.

“Trump’s decision will be a self-inflicted wound on our allies’ trust in American leadership,” Beyer wrote in a statement alongside fellow members of the House Safe Climate Caucus. “The Paris Agreement was a vision reflecting decisive action, hope, ingenuity, and the ideals with which we would define our country’s place in the world. Withdrawal from that agreement represents a triumph of ignorance, nativism and political pandering, and the message it sends to other countries will be disastrous for the relationships which have built and sustained our prosperity.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) released a statement condemning the president’s decision. He wrote that despite the withdrawal, Virginia will continue to do its part to fight climate change.

“The President’s dangerous action today will have a devastating impact on our environment, our economy, and our health,” McAuliffe said. “The United States economy is dependent on leadership in the world, yet the President seems inclined to sit back and let other nations pass us by. Climate change is a threat to our way of life. If President Trump refuses to lead the response, Virginia will.”

McAuliffe also detailed how his own actions have differed from Trump’s. He wrote how in early May, he signed an order to reduce carbon emissions in the Commonwealth.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said the president’s choice goes against the country’s history of scientific innovation.

“The President seems to think that the U.S. commitment to cut about [one quarter] of our carbon pollution by 2025 is beyond the grasp of the country that won World War II and put men on the moon,” Kaine said in a statement.

Kaine added that he wants to be able to tell his future grandchildren that the US met the environmental challenge “head-on and triumphed over it, not shrank and cowered from it.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called the president’s announcement a “rejection of settled science.” He also highlighted how this historical decision will impact Virginians in the future.

“It poses a direct threat to Virginia’s environment, economy and way of life,” Warner wrote in a statement.

But Kaine managed a few optimistic words amid the swirl of pessimism and condemnation.

“I am confident that our nation’s optimistic, can-do spirit will eventually prevail over this short-sighted dereliction of America’s leadership role,” he said.

0 Comments

Beyer event graphic

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is inviting the public to join him in an evening of open discussion at an event he has dubbed “The Road Ahead.”

Beyer says many Arlington residents have contacted his office recently to voice concerns and to inquire about working to “bridge the great divisions that exist in our rich and complex country.”

Issues on the agenda for discussion include health care, immigration, climate change, gun safety, civil rights, and America’s role in the world, among others.

The event will take place at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) on Monday, January 16, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. The event is free and those interested in attending may register online.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

A duck in Bon Air Park (Flickr pool photo by Airamangel)

Power Outage at Courthouse Metro Station — A power outage has been reported at the Courthouse Metro station. The outage turned off most of the lights and trapped some customers in the station’s elevator, according to Twitter accounts. The station is said to now be operating on emergency power. [Twitter, Twitter]

Interview with John Vihstadt — Washingtonian has published a Q&A with Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt. During the interview, Vihstadt said of county government: “by and large, it’s well managed.” Before he was elected, however, Vihstadt said the county was in danger of losing its way. “There was a growing consensus that we were too self-congratulatory. There was too much ‘Aren’t we doing great?’ And if there was room for improvement, it was nothing another taxpayer dollar couldn’t solve.” [Washingtonian]

Garvey on I-66 Widening — In a county-produced video, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey discusses the somewhat controversial VDOT plan to widen a portion of I-66 in Arlington. [Facebook]

Another AAA Rating for Arlington — Bond rating agency Fitch Ratings has again assigned Arlington County its top AAA rating. The high rating allows the county to borrow money more cheaply than less creditworthy jurisdictions. [BusinessWire]

Rising Sea Levels and Arlington — A new interactive map shows what rising sea levels would mean for D.C. and Arlington. The good news is that the two meters of sea level rise predicted to occur by 2100 would result in little impact for most of Arlington; the most vulnerable areas are portions of Reagan National Airport, East Potomac Park in D.C. and other areas along the banks of the Potomac. [Washingtonian]

Arlington Little League Opening Day — It looks to be a cool and cloudy start to the local little league season this weekend. Arlington Little League’s 30th anniversary season kicks off at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Barcroft Park. [Twitter]

One Year Anniversary for Shirlington RestaurantOsteria da Nino in Shirlington (2900 S. Quincy Street) is celebrating its one year anniversary on Sunday. The restaurant will offer a complimentary glass of Prosecco and appetizers for guests from 4-6 p.m. [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by Airamangel

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Cherry tree in bloom in Arlington (Photo courtesy @jamijrodgers)

County Considering Hiking Parking Fees — The Arlington County Board this month is expected to consider a staff proposal to raise the short term parking rate from $1.25 to $1.50 per hour and the long term rate from $1 to $1.25. The Board will also consider extending the end of metered parking hours from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. [InsideNova]

Arlingtonians Worried About Climate Change — According to a new study, 65 percent of Arlington residents say they’re worried about climate change. That compares to 74 percent of D.C. residents who say they’re worried about climate change and a national average of 52 percent. [DCist, Yale]

NTSB Examining Arlington Smoke Incident — Looking for clues into the fatal smoke Jan. 12 smoke incident near the L’Enfant Metro station, NTSB investigators are looking at arcing electrical components from a Feb. 11 smoke incident between the Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations. Meanwhile, Metro is trying to figure out how to accelerate a plan to replace older power cables. [Washington Post]

‘Ready for Hillary’ Ready to Shut Down — The Rosslyn-based super PAC Ready for Hillary is preparing to shut down when Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign officially ramps up. The PAC has compiled a list of 3.8 million supporters and 130,000 donors. It raised $14 million with a staff of 1-2 dozen. [Associated Press]

Photo courtesy @jamijrodgers

0 Comments

Morning Notes

A seagull and a view of Rosslyn (photo courtesy Scott Shelbo)

Lane Markings Repainted Near Pentagon — The lane markings on Route 110 near the Pentagon were repainted this week after NBC4 alerted VDOT to “awkward lane markings” left there by construction work. Before the repainting, “motorists drove along seemingly in one lane, only to have that lane disappear right under them,” NBC4’s Adam Tuss said. [NBC Washington]

Va. Anti-Sodomy Law Overturned — A U.S. appeals court panel has ruled that Virginia’s anti-sodomy law is unconstitutional. The case involved a man accused of soliciting sodomy with a 17-year-old girl. One of the judges said that “Virginia can and should punish adults who have sexual relations with minors, but the state cannot use an unconstitutional law to do so.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Arlington Plans to Sell $264 Million in Bonds — Arlington County is planning to sell up to $264 million in municipal bonds next month. The sale would include $94 million in new bonds and $170 million in refinanced existing bonds. The debt service on the new bonds will add about $8.7 million per year to the county’s budget. [Sun Gazette]

Moran Calls for Action on Climate Change — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) took to the House floor on Tuesday to call for Congress to take action to “prevent further damage from climate change by developing a long-term strategy to address the issue.” [YouTube]

Photo courtesy Scott Shelbo

55 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list