We urge the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to obtain critical data and be more accountable prior to making land-use decisions that impact people and our environment for generations to come. In their rush to develop the rural crescent, the board is making decisions without proper environmental studies, particularly with regard to the drinking water of residents of both Prince William and Fairfax counties.
In the rural crescent lies the beginning of the waters that flow into the Occoquan Reservoir. When the reservoir was built Fairfax County protected land around the reservoir with new laws requiring lower densities as well as purchasing 5,000 acres of open space along the reservoir for use as a buffer and public parkland. Prince William chose to develop the land abutting the reservoir and to protect the head waters, which are located within the rural crescent. This plan has worked for many years.
Recently though, we have seen the current board remove land from the rural crescent twice without any discussion about how we are going to protect our water supply. In February, a new housing development that greatly increases residential density within the rural crescent was approved. This new development was approved with no study of how additional homes and industry may affect the watershed. We already know additional non-porous surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, influence water quality in a negative way. We need studies from U.S. Geological Survey and other professionals to assure residents that water quality and quantity will not be compromised.
Then in March, the board amended the county’s comprehensive plan to allow the building of a privately owned data center on property within the protected rural area. Again, without any studies regarding potential environmental harms.
I ask the county supervisors to do the studies and incorporate the findings in their plans. Water is a precious resource. Let’s be a county that looks at the ramifications of our development before we destroy a natural environment.