Arlington, VA

Updated at 11:35 a.m. — The work on the county’s sewage plant has been postponed until next week, officials say.

Earlier: The air near Arlington’s sewage plant is expected to be a bit more rank than usual this week.

The county’s Dept. of Environmental Services announced yesterday that the plant near Crystal City was undergoing repair work on its odor control system, starting today (Tuesday). As a result “a sulfurous odor may be noticeable near the plant as air is vented out of manholes on both sides of South Glebe Road.”

Staff from the department provided a diagram (above) showing the location of the work and the odorous manholes, noting that the extra emissions are safe and not a health hazard.

The full announcement from DES is below.

Greetings:

Tomorrow through Friday, weather-permitting, crews at the County Water Pollution Control Plant will be repairing a duct connected to an odor control scrubber system that discharges cleaned air to the atmosphere. During the work, a sulfurous odor may be noticeable near the plant as air is vented out of manholes on both sides of South Glebe Road.

There is no health hazard posed by this work.

The photo [above] shows the scrubber buildings involved in the repairs as outlined and two small purple x’s indicating the manholes involved in venting.

Safety is always the plant staff’s No. 1 priority. Last year, the plant won the Virginia Water Environment Association’s Facility Safety Award.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Arlington County Department of Environmental Services

Image via Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services

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Morning Notes

Hospital Construction Starting Soon — “Around the time most local residents are firing up the grills for mid-summer barbecues, Virginia Hospital Center will be firing up the bulldozers as it moves forward with a long-awaited expansion. Hospital officials aim to have their land-swap agreement with the county government in place by the end of July, and ‘the plan is to begin construction shortly thereafter.'” [InsideNova]

Swastika in S. Arlington Park — “From a local Nextdoor group: someone drew swastikas on a sign board in Troy Park near S. Glebe Road. A parks department spokeswoman says the graffiti has been covered up and no other incidents of this kind have been reported recently.” [Twitter]

When To Report an Oily Sheen on the Water — “A rainbow sheen can result from iron-oxidizing bacteria or from petroleum. To differentiate, trail a stick through the film. It it readily breaks up, it’s most likely bacteria. If it swirls together, it’s most likely petroleum and should be reported.” [Arlington County]

When to Call 911 for a Medical Issue — “The Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) is initiating a public information campaign to help individuals, facilities and communities develop the know-how to ‘Make the Right Call.’ The effort aims to empower the community to help maintain EMS system readiness by learning appropriate utilization of the medical 911 system.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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A new report says some levels of pollution are down in the Potomac River, but cautioned that the once-troubled waterway isn’t out the woods yet.

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments analyzed data collected between 1985 and 2016 and found that “water quality improvements have reduced pollution significantly.”

MWCOG’s 27-page report said two substances in particular have noticeably decreased: nitrogen and phosphorus.

Both are common nutrients for soil and water, but runoff from farms and waste treatment facilities can lead to excess amounts flowing into waterways. When too much nitrogen enters a river it can cause plants to overgrow and choke the oxygen from the water, killing fish and in some cases making the water toxic to young children.

Too much phosphorus causes algae blooms that are deadly to fish. Blooms have been spotted north of Chain Bridge, according to the report.

MWCOG’s report released on Wednesday said its pollution analysis found that:

The amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus — which, in excess, contribute to water quality problems — contained in the discharge from wastewater plants in metropolitan Washington has declined dramatically since the 1980s and is on track for further reductions. The number and extent of harmful algal blooms in the upper Potomac estuary has declined significantly. Populations of aquatic plants and animals that live in this portion of the river, such as submerged aquatic vegetation, some fish, and some waterfowl have grown closer to their historical abundances.

“Scientists are still interpreting how much time elapses between various nutrient reduction efforts and when their impact shows up in the Potomac estuary and the [Chesapeake] Bay,” the report notes. “What is certain is that additional efforts to reduce nutrients and sediment from agriculture and urban runoff will be needed to achieve the river’s long-term water quality goals.”

The report says local governments are working to reduce other contaminants like mercury, prescription drugs, and chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Last year, Potomac Conservancy, an advocacy nonprofit, gave the river a “B” rating. That’s a big improvement from the “D” rating the group gave it 10 years ago.

Potomac Conservancy noted that with less pollution people are increasingly using the river “as a place to hangout, recreate and live.”

In the future, citizen scientists are likely to be a part of making these reports happen. Last month, people volunteered to start collecting weekly water samples of the Potomac and the Anacostia so scientists can track E. coli levels in both rivers.

Local governments have spent billions over the last three decades to clean up the rivers, mainly by redirecting sewage flows, and managing stormwater runoff better.

In Arlington, volunteers have cleaned up trash along streams and riverbanks for three decades.

Image (top) via Flickr pool user Wolfkann, chart (middle) via MWCOG

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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

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Barcroft Park/Four Mile Run clean-upA local organization is looking for Arlington residents to help remove litter from Four Mile Run next month.

Volunteers with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) will help pick up trash from the stream during the organization’s annual cleanup at Barcroft Park on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Those who sign up for the event will be tasked with removing debris from Barcroft Park and along the banks of Four Mile Run.

The cleanup is being held in conjunction with Clean Virginia Waterways Day and the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. As part of its collaborative efforts, ACE will collect data on the garbage its volunteers remove from the stream.

“We will submit the data to both groups to contribute to an understanding of how litter is impacting our waterways and the wildlife that depends on our waterways,” said Elenor Hodges, executive director at ACE.

Those interested in helping out should bring along sturdy shoes they don’t mind getting wet, work gloves and a water bottle and wear long pants and sleeves to protect against poison ivy, Hodges said.

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Morning Notes

Sunset over Four Mile Run in Shirlington

County Looking at Fire Station Alternatives — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with Arlington Public Schools that would allow it to build a temporary fire station on the grounds of the new H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn. However, in response to parent concerns the Board directed county staff to look into potential alternative locations. [InsideNova, Arlington County]

Couple: Snow Melter Fumes Contaminated Our House — A couple who lives near Bluemont Park says diesel fumes from a snow melter that the county was using about 40 yards from their home this past winter has contaminated the home. The county paid for the couple to live in a hotel while the snow melter was running, in the wake of January’s blizzard. Now the couple wants the county to pay for a thorough cleaning of the home. [Washington Post]

Henry Gate to Reopen — The Henry Gate along Route 50 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will reopen to military bicyclists and pedestrians on Aug. 1. Among other expected benefits, the gate is expected to serve military users of Uber and Lyft; the ride hailing services are not available on the base. [Mobility Lab]

Police Escort Ducklings Across Road — An ACPD officers and a couple of “alert citizens” helped a mother duck and her ducklings cross N. Stafford Street on Friday. [Twitter]

More on Clarendon Drug Bust — One of the regular meetups for the alleged Clarendon drug ring was Whitlow’s on Wilson, where two of the suspects worked. “It was shocking, disappointing and frustrating to hear that any of this activity took place around our business and the neighborhood,” said Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams, noting that most other Clarendon bars were also named as areas of drug activity. [NBC Washington]

Two Park Renovations Approved — The County Board unanimously approved $1.65 million in upgrades to Bluemont Park and High View Park over the weekend. [Arlington County]

Board Approves Changes to Ballston Building — Originally proposed as an office building, the last building in the Founder’s Square project in Ballston will instead be built as a mixed use building, with a mix of retail, office and apartments. [Arlington County]

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Morning Notes

Herselle Milliken Park in Ashton Heights

Big Tree Down on Washington Blvd — A large tree fell across power lines on Washington Blvd just south of Virginia Hospital Center during Saturday night and Sunday morning’s windstorm. Washington Blvd was closed between George Mason Drive and N. Harrison Street for much of the day Sunday while Dominion crews repaired the lines. [Twitter, Twitter]

Photos: DCA Airport Strike — DCist has photos from last week’s 24 hour strike of contract service workers at Reagan National Airport. [DCist]

Arlington Signs on to Amicus Brief — Arlington was among more than 50 counties and cities that signed on to an amicus brief in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan for reducing carbon emissions from power plants. [Columbia Law School, Twitter]

Capital Improvement Plan Survey — Through April 22, Arlington County is conducting an online survey of residents that will help guide decision-making during the upcoming Capital Improvement Plan process. The CIP helps to plan “major investments in parks, libraries, transportation, community centers, facilities, technology, water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure — along with other areas that support the community.” [Arlington County]

‘The Burbs Are Back’ in Office Leasing — Arlington and other suburban D.C. jurisdictions are showing a bit of strength in the office leasing market. “The suburbs accounted for 69.5 percent of Washington region’s leasing activity in the first quarter, up substantially from a 52.9 percent share in 2015, according to JLL’s quarterly market reports.” [Virginia Business]

TSA Move Delayed Until 2020 — The Transportation Security Administration will be staying put at its Pentagon City headquarters until at least 2020. The TSA had planned to move to Alexandria by 2018, but legal wrangling has delayed the move and forced the TSA to redo its leasing process. [Washington Business Journal]

PSA: Don’t Do This — Spotted in Clarendon: a young woman urinating while sitting on a bench along a busy street, at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday. [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

"Bluemont Glacier" (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Authorities Still Investigating Oil Sheen on Potomac — In an effort to find the source of an oily sheen on the Potomac River near the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, the Coast Guard, state authorities and the Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services will be conducting a “dye test.” Non-toxic dye may be seen in the river today. At least 23 birds were were sent to a wildlife rescue organization for cleaning as a result of contact with the oil. [U.S. Coast Guard, Facebook, WJLA]

Two Displaced By Fire Near Clarendon — A structure fire Friday night on the 1200 block of N. Kirkwood Road, near Clarendon, has left two residents displaced. No one was injured in the blaze. The residents are being assisted by the Red Cross. [Twitter, Twitter]

Nauck History Project Seeks Contributions — As part of Black History Month, Arlington County is encouraging residents of the Nauck neighborhood to donate images and stories to the Nauck/Green Valley Heritage Project. The project has an online archive dedicated to preserving the community’s rich history. [Arlington County]

Arlington Makes AARP ‘Healthy’ List — Arlington County is among the top “medium population cities” for those ages 50+ to stay active and healthy, according to new rankings. [AARP]

Clement: Support Governor’s I-66 Plan — Frequent local candidate for elected office Audrey Clement is encouraging Arlingtonians to support the McAuliffe administration’s plan for tolling I-66 inside the Beltway. That plan, which calls for widening I-66 only as a last resort, is preferable to the call from outside the Beltway lawmakers to widen I-66 as soon as possible, Clement says. [Campaign for a Greener Arlington]

Arlington Woman Has Purse With $10K Cash Stolen — Police are looking for a suspect seen stealing a purse with $10,000 cash inside from a Fairfax County Dunkin’ Donuts. The purse was accidentally left behind by an Arlington mother who had saved for years to pay her 18-year-old daughter’s tuition at Penn State. [NBC Washington]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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State of the Air 2014 for Arlington (top graph shows high particle pollution days and bottom graph shows high ozone pollution, or smog, days)Arlington’s air again received an “F” grade for smog from the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report, with days of high ozone pollution increasing over last year.

ALA’s last report in 2013 said that Arlington experienced an annual average of less than 10 days of smog that were “unhealthy for sensitive populations.” In the most recent study period, that number jumped to 11.2 days per year. A weighted average of four days is considered a passing grade.

However, the Lung Association says that Arlington received an “A” in its particle pollution grade, registering no 24-hour periods of unhealthy levels of particle pollution. Last year it received a “B” grade.

The D.C. area was the 8th-most polluted metropolitan area in the country, according to this year’s report, up from 9th last year and 14th in 2011. Los Angeles was again the most smog-filled metropolitan area.

Images via ALA

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Morning Notes

Potomac River Bank (Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen)

Stormwater Management Ordinance Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a new stormwater management ordinance. The ordinance complies with strict EPA standards intended to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay. It’s expected to raise the county’s costs related to stormwater management. [Arlington County]

Gymnastic Boosters Speak Out About Rising Fee — Youth gymnasts and their parents spoke out at Saturday’s County Board meeting about rising fees for out-of-county gymnasts. Starting July 1, the cost for using county facilities is rising dramatically for members of the Arlington Aerials gymnastics team who do not live in the county. [InsideNova]

VHC Has High C-Section Rate — Virginia Hospital Center has one of the highest C-section rates for low-risk deliveries, according to Consumer Reports. [NBC Washington]

Fmr. Arlington Resident Charged in Drug Scheme — Two former Arlington residents have been sentenced after being convicted of running an illegal pharmaceutical business from their Crystal City apartment. Syed “Farhan” Huda, 39, was sentenced to three years in prison and $3.4 million in restitution. his wife, Deeba Mallick, 37, was sentenced to nine months in prison.  [U.S. Department of Justice]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

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Air pollution charts via stateoftheair.orgThe state of Arlington’s air is not very good, according to the American Lung Association.

The organization released its annual State of the Air report today and Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and the District of Columbia earned an “F” grade for ozone pollution — also known as smog. The D.C. area as a whole ranked as the 9th most-polluted city in the nation for smog, up from 13th last year and 14th in 2011.

Arlington received a “B” grade for 24-hour particle pollution, meanwhile, which is better than the District’s “C” grade.

The report suggests that the D.C. area has improved in terms of particle pollution in recent years.

“The air in Washington, DC is certainly cleaner than when we started the ‘State of the Air’ report 14 years ago,” said Kimberly Williams, Advocacy and Communications Manager for the American Lung Association, in a press release. “Even though the area experienced increases in unhealthy days of high ozone, the air quality is still better compared to a decade ago. But the work is not done, and we must set stronger health standards for pollutants and cleanup sources of pollution in the D.C. area to protect the health of our citizens.”

The full press release, after the jump.

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