NVRC Currents

NVRC Currents

Mar 05

NVRC Protecting Our Region's Drinking Water Supply - Normand Goulet

Posted on March 5, 2020 at 4:57 PM by Bob Lazaro

Occaquon Reservoir

Beginning in the mid 1970’s the Northern Virginia Regional Commission has coordinated efforts of the Occoquan Watershed local governments to improve and maintain the Occoquan Reservoir water quality and to meet state water quality standards through the Occoquan Management Programs. By fostering cooperation amongst watershed jurisdictions, the Commission becomes a key player for improving the Occoquan Reservoir by navigating the complex technological and political challenges to maintain clean water in a rapidly urbanizing watershed.

Through a group of technical professionals from Fairfax Water, the Upper Occoquan Sewerage Authority, the Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, and along with technical staffs of its member local governments, they have devoted their professional careers to create, build and manage a system that is unique in the United States that reclaims wastewater and produces arguably the most reliable and least expensive drinking water in the metropolitan Washington area.

The Occoquan Watershed covers 590 square miles and includes the Occoquan Reservoir, which serves as the boundary between Fairfax and Prince William counties. The reservoir is one of two major water sources for the Fairfax County Water Authority, which supplies water to over one million people in Northern Virginia.

For more information about our Occoquan program and to view a 60 minute documentary filmed about this important work please visit our web site.

Feb 03

Transportation Demand Management: Why You Should Care - Allison Doerfler

Posted on February 3, 2020 at 2:25 PM by Bob Lazaro

Did you know there is nearly a combined 110,000 cars traveling through the gates of Ft. Belvoir, Marine Corps Base-Quantico (MCBQ), and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) daily?  Roughly 86% of the cars traveling through the gates at Ft. Belvoir and MCBQ are Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs)?  And, that number jumps to an astounding 96% for JBM-HH?  In fact, it is estimated that a quarter of the vehicles on I-95/395 every day are commuting to one of the military installations. 

To the consternation of those driving on I-95/395 during rush hour, this is probably not news.Those of us who drive in this region have seen study after study telling us what we already know: Traffic here is frustrating.  It frequently feels there is no end to the unrelenting traffic, no hope, no immediate or comprehensive fix, and definitely no perfect solution.  INRIX, a private company focusing on traffic and transportation, named this area the sixth worst for traffic congestion for a metropolitan area in the country, only following Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Miami.  To say nothing of the fact that the stretch of southbound I-95 from DC to U.S. 17 in Stafford was identified as the “worst single traffic hotspot” in the country.

Nevertheless, there is hope.  The Northern Virginia Regional Commission is working alongside many other local organizations and three of the larger military installations in the NoVA region (Ft. Belvoir, MCBQ, and JBM-HH) to address this issue and reduce the number of SOVs traveling to the military bases.  While these installations are some of the largest employers in their respective jurisdictions, there is an absence of transportation alternatives.  Due to security and location, “transportation deserts” have been created making it difficult for those not driving to access these locations.     

NVRC visits these installations weekly to provide outreach and educate commuters about alternative transportation options.  We are creating a toolkit for commuters that includes: transit options such as: buses, VRE trains, and Metro; working with the tenant agencies to create “e-slugging” to arrange for carpools;  using the Waze App to form car and vanpools; and encouraging walking and biking, working to get Uber and Lyft and Biking apps on base.  We are working directly with the base tenant agencies to encourage and promote transportation alternatives and provide individualized information.  We are presenting at town halls, appearing at new employee orientations, and making information available through social media.  It is our goal to get a considerable number of people traveling in their SOVs to the various military installations down to a number that begins to alleviate the traffic along these heavily traveled corridors.

However, this process takes time and patience, in order to persuade individuals to change their habit from driving alone, the process is one-on-one contact.  NVRC is educating people on the Express Lanes for carpooling and how the Federal Transit Subsidy works in order to get them out of their SOVs.  For some, this will be a welcome change as driving in the National Capitol Region (NCR) can be stressful and overwhelming, thus getting out of their SOVs will be a simple decision.  For others, there may be concerns about safety and comfort, so this kind of change is more gradual and may require a gradual attempt at trying options a few times per week. 

We all drive the same roads, and we suffer from the same congestion.  We are all highly motivated to encourage everyone to make the change to alternative transportation, making the commute for all of us a little less hopeless in the NCR.

The link for the article from INRIX:


Funding for this project is provided through a grant from the I-395/95 Commuter Choice Program to provide education and outreach to the military.

You can reach Allison Doerfler our Military Transportation Coordinator via email at allison.doerfler at novaregion.org or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonDoerfler
Jan 22

Helping Improve the Chesapeake Bay - Norm Goulet

Posted on January 22, 2020 at 7:43 AM by Bob Lazaro

Chesapeake Bay Image

Communities throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, along with federal and state
government, local government, nonprofit organizations, farmers, and private businesses are
making significant progress restoring and protecting the health of local waterways and the
Bay. On Dec. 29, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the
Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), a historic and comprehensive cleanup
plan to guide federal, state and local actions as their communities clean up the Chesapeake
Bay and the connected streams, creeks and rivers.

Specifically in Virginia the TMDL calls for a 20.5% reduction in nitrogen, 25.2% reduction in
phosphorus and 20.8% reduction in sediment delivered to the bay. The objective is to have clean up practices, known as best management practices or BMPs, in place by 2025 to reach the goal of a clean Chesapeake Bay and local waterways that meet water quality standards.

In accordance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expectations, jurisdictions
Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) are designed to accomplish a set of allocation goals identified in the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). The EPA recognizes that it will take time to develop the level of detail the jurisdictions are expected to include in their WIPs. As a result, the WIP development process has been divided into three distinct phases.

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission is pleased to be able to play a significant leadership role not only in Northern Virginia and with State colleagues, but also in coordination with our Chesapeake Bay Planning District colleagues in the watershed. Additionally, NVRC operates a number of programs to help homeowners and business owners alike help take action to improve the Bay.

Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan

The initial Phase I WIP document provided information for the EPA to consider when it
established wasteload and load allocations within each of the 92 segments listed as
impaired. The Phase I WIP includes a description of the authorities, actions, and control
measures (to the extent possible) that will be implemented to achieve these point and
nonpoint source TMDL allocations.

Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan

The Phase II WIP was developed with the assistance of a Stakeholder Advisory Group
convened by the Secretary of Natural Resources and composed of representatives from state agencies, localities, and planning district commissions the Stakeholder Advisory Group submitted the Phase II WIP to the EPA on March 30, 2012.

Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan

The Phase III WIP submitted to the EPA on August 23, 2019 includes refined actions and
controls that will be implemented between 2019 and 2025 to achieve water quality standards.

Virginia's Phase III WIP lays out over 50 targeted state initiatives to support the efforts necessary to achieve the Commonwealth's restoration goals by 2025, placing a strong emphasis on sustained funding and increased technical capacity across all sectors. This strategy is intended to systematically close the outstanding gaps during the final phase of restoration and enable the Commonwealth to reach its pollution reduction targets.

How You Can Help

Our Plant NoVA Natives program helps provide homeowners not only information on the benefits of Northern Virginia native plants, but at what local nursery that they can be purchased. Additionally, we operate the Clean Water Partners campaign with 15 local partners to provide practical advice to homeowners and businesses how they can take steps to protect the Bay. Additionally, working with members of the business community we provide hazardous waste training regarding commonly found items in one’s business. The Know Toxics program helps inform business owners and employees alike on the safe disposal of business generated waste. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has published a list of items on how you can help clean the Chesapeake Bay.