“we can’t meet the standards, so why try?”

Brent Finnegan -- July 17th, 2007

Sounds like Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality isn’t all that concerned with upholding standards.

Now they’re considering allowing more bacteria into the waterways. What exactly is the point of having a DEQ if they don’t really uphold any standards? Can we turn control of the department over to the Riverkeepers?

10 Responses to ““we can’t meet the standards, so why try?””

  1. Bubby says:

    This is a human-health statistic assessment conclusion and will likely be approved. It was adopted when they first started looking at surface water quality because…well they were scrambling for indicator parameters. It was a poor choice because it doesn’t directly measure the health of the stream. BUT….

    There are now better ways to assess stream health – dissolved oxygen, temperature, and a census of the benthic critters (bottom dwellers) to name a few.

    For example: If a stream is over-nutrified, the dissolved oxygen will decrease, and the benthic critters will get hammered. So this latest move by the DEQ is an acknowledgment that better assessment methods are available.

  2. David Miller says:

    That and that the bears are really unloading in the streams.

  3. finnegan says:

    Yeah, seriously. They’re trying to blame this on deer and bears?

    This goes way beyond the DEQ, though. the General Assembly passes little resolutions and laws that don’t really address one of the primary causes of water pollution: industrial waste. And I’m not just talking about factories. I mean any money-making enterprise in the state whose by-product might have an ill effect on the water… But they can’t crack down on the vested interest when they’re the ones writing campaign checks.

    Same old story.

  4. Frank J Witt says:

    D E Q ?

    Queen ?

  5. Bubby says:

    Hayden said present standards allow 126 bacteria colonies per 100 milliliters of water, a level almost impossible to meet in some areas because bacteria levels are high from wild animals, such as bear and deer that defecate in the water.

    An unfortunate choice of words that only hints at the disconnect between an otherwise clean stream and high wildlife e-coli bacteria contamination.

    Historically, the agriculture and mining industries were exempted from water and waste regulation. And they are still fighting regulation. Currently Virginia requires animal farming operations above a set number of animals to operate under a general or individual permit for waste management & discharge. There are monitoring requirements for things like nutrients, unfortunately there are no (in most cases) discharge limits.

    Same with land applied waste like poultry litter. They file an application plan for review, but there is little oversight of the land application, or it’s impact.

    With the further development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for entire stream systems, the DEQ will have to determine a fair distribution of stream contaminants that each discharger will be allowed. That is when the battle royal comes. There clearly isn’t enough capacity for things like nutrients in the area rivers. Limits will be placed on individual dischargers.

    Agriculture is going to have to do what other industries have done for 40 years – build in the cost of waste treatment. And they will have to do so in a market that has them in competition with States and other Nations that don’t enforce similar requirements. We need a strong USEPA and trade agreements to make this work.

  6. Justin says:

    Warning: uninformed rant about to take place

    When I was in middle school we abandoned the “Presidential Fitness” award because barely anyone could win it. It looked like only 5% of my class was fit. The new “standards” were a joke, 95% of students passed them. In reality they meant nothing, but in the stats that the school system, and the state, showed it seemed to be working. Kids were getting in better shape and everyone should be pleased with themselves.

    Why use standards to grade progress when you can grade your progress better by changing the standards.

  7. Bubby says:

    Justin: What if I told you that I could better measure your fitness by a cardiovascular stress test, than by how many pull ups you can complete?

  8. David Miller says:

    Bubby, that would actually be a reasonable approach. I love Justin’s point, the tests are bullshit, like most tests. SOLS anyone? They are all just political ammunition that are conducted on our dime.

  9. David Troyer says:

    Bubby… some school systems are switching to more cardiovascular related standards. From what I understand, EMHS was recently awarded a grant of heart monitors to evaluate student’s level of activity during physical fitness tests.

  10. Thanh says:

    “Two-thirds of American children can’t pass a basic physical: 40 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls ages six to seventeen can’t manage more than one pull-up; and 40 percent show early signs of heart and circulation problems according to a new report by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.” – Richard Louv, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”

    Unrelated to this post, but in continuation of the comments posted, I do agree that measuring health and fitness using “cardiovascular standards” (heart monitors) is a better indicator for doctors and health officials. But, I wonder if getting an award for heart rates during exercise is as fun as get an award for the number of pull ups I can do, or for how far I can stretch in the V-sit. I don’t know much about these school programs and their current status (so maybe my comment is worthless), but I think a little positive competition is healthy and gives people something concrete, and specific to strive for and improve in. (Even at my work, we have annual fitness challenges between departments.) Also, I think some unstructured outdoor time for kids to play (recess, and afterschool time with friends) is something we need to keep/bring back – I think it would definately help reduce obesity and improve health, etc.

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