Loudoun’s newly elected Board of Supervisors has received recommendations for significant reductions in staff for programs that help ensure basic protections for the County’s environmental and historic assets. In one case, staff cuts will signal the end of an entire program.
The recommendations seek to eliminate two full time positions within the County’s Water Resources Management Program (WRMP), which collects data and develops management plans to protect water sources. Opponents of the cuts, including the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy say that “Cutting the Water Resources Program by 25 percent … will make it difficult to continue the program … Approximately 100,000 Loudoun residents rely on wells for their drinking water.
Without adequate staffing for groundwater monitoring, the County cannot assess groundwater quantity or quality, or provide an action plan for what to do if/when another severe drought occurs.” Current WRMP staff have stormwater expertise and assist with erosion and sediment law implementation. Many question why, with three new Erosion and Sediment control positions currently advertised, existing staff will be replaced with new staff that will be charged with the same duties.
Another proposed cut affects the Archaeological Review staff within the Environmental Review Program. In Loudoun County, an estimated 75 percent to 80 percent of development sites have archaeological sites on them, with archaeological finds ranging from very small to large and nationally significant. The man hours proposed for cuts provide archaeological oversight of land development proposals. Developers are not required to preserve finds, but merely identify them. Having qualified staff working with the development community is critical to guiding development in ways that honor Loudoun’s history.
It is also proposed to cut one full-time staff in the Urban Horticulture Program. This position trains Master Gardener volunteers (167 active) who to date have given 14,000 hours to the community, providing information on topics including turf management and the use of pesticides and herbicides, informing residents on how to help keep Loudoun streams clean, and supporting agricultural programs such as Loudoun’s Annual Farm Tours and 4-H Day, as well as Family and Youth development and data collection on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.
A fourth proposed area of cuts includes two positions in the Energy Program, effectively ending the effort. Opponents of the cuts argue that more than $2.1 million in energy cost savings were achieved for the County through Energy Conservation Coordination, Energy Audits Implementation, Energy Efficiency Projects and other initiatives.
The public is invited to comments on the proposed cuts by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the Citizen Comment Line, 703-777-0115. Information/sign up for the upcoming public hearing addressing these cuts is available by calling 703-777-0200.