PRESS RELEASE: Arlington County Levels Stream Banks to Control Runoff

October 25, 2020.

As the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board on November 3, I’m concerned that my opponent, County Board Chair Libby Garvey, is pushing a radical and unproven technology, to reduce the flow of runoff into the Potomac River.

The technology, euphemistically referred to as “streambed restoration”, requires filling in streambeds to expand the floodplain on either side of an eroded stream bank. It also requires clearcutting wooded areas along the stream. While stream bank leveling might slow the flow of runoff, clearcutting destroys mature tree canopy needed to reduce flooding, absorb pollutants and nurture wildlife.

Yet in a recent letter to ARLnow columnist Peter Rousselot, Garvey dissed him for criticizing Arlington’s use of the technique to curtail erosion along Gulf Branch and Donaldson Run. She said:

“The very limited efforts some advocate to stabilize steep, eroded stream banks ‘in place’ are not effective in the long run. Importantly, they would not meet regulatory and permitting requirements required by law.”

Libby Garvey

Arlington resident and long time Fairfax County environmental consultant Rod Simmons challenged Garvey, saying:

“Arlington County should be held accountable for such disinformation. I also strongly disagree with a number of other assertions in your letter . . . , but the above statement should not stand unchallenged.”

Rod Simmons

Simmons insists that other less intrusive measures are equally effective in curtailing runoff and far less destructive of natural surroundings. Unlike Garvey, he cites a growing number of authorities who share his skepticism of so-called “streambed restoration”, also known as the Rosgen method.

I share Rod Simmons’ opposition to bulldozing away Arlington’s runoff problems. If elected, I will save our parks, streams and tree canopy and stop clear cutting wooded areas as the first line of defense against runoff and flooding.

I will also:

  • Say YES to affordable housing, and NO to upzoning.
  • Use bond money for needed facilities not boondoggles.
  • Exercise the County’s own independent authority to deal responsibly with the COVID crisis.
  • Say YES to real social justice reforms and NO to symbolic gestures.

As a 16-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.