Delegate Ken Plum's Virginia E-News – May 30, 2007
Help the Bay
Research recently conducted as part of a science class project by Kristen Skowronski, a 7th grader at Rachel Carson Middle School, found that high levels of phosphates such as that found in dishwashing detergent can cause an increase in harmful alagal blooms (HABs) in the Chesapeake Bay. HABs, sometimes referred to as Red Tide, lower the amount of oxygen in the water and can result in the loss of fish and other aquatic life and can adversely affect human health. Kristen checked her results with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which confirmed that “phosphorus is one of the nutrient pollutants that cause the low oxygen problem in the Bay.” In recognition of the adverse impact of phosphorus on the environment, all states in the 1970’s banned the use of phosphorus in laundry detergent.
Kristen is spearheading an effort to make the public aware of the negative effects on the Chesapeake Bay of the continued use of phosphorus in dishwashing detergent. Her plan is to approach the issue from two fronts. She has already sent petitions signed by others asking me to introduce a bill in the General Assembly next session to limit phosphates in dishwashing detergents to no more than .5 percent. Typically dishwasher detergents have levels of around 6.7 percent with current Virginia law permitting up to 8.7 percent. The states of Maryland and Washington have passed laws with the .5 percent limitation effective 2010. I plan to introduce such a bill in the 2008 session of the General Assembly.
Kristen hopes also to educate the public on the problem and to seek voluntary changes in the detergents that people choose to use. There is a phosphate-free dishwashing detergent available at Trader Joe’s under its own brand name. Seventh Generation’s environmentally friendly product line includes a phosphate-free dishwashing detergent that can be purchased at Whole Foods. Kristen’s research on the effectiveness of phosphate-free detergents found them to be as effective as currently popular brands with high levels of phosphates. She found a 2003 Consumer Report that rated three phosphate-free detergents in the top eleven. One phosphate-free detergent rated second highest overall and scored excellent in all categories including cleaning effectiveness and cost. This column is intended to be part of the public awareness campaign.
If you want to know more about this issue and ways that you can help clean up the Bay, tune in to my weekly television show, Virginia Report on Reston Comcast Channel 28 on Tuesday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. or Wednesday, June 6 at 10:30 p.m. Kristen Skowronski is my special guest. She shares the results of her research as well as her action plan.
Jane and I are switching to phosphate-free dishwashing detergent in our household; I hope you will as well. It is another way we can help the Bay. And thanks to Kristen for bringing this issue to my attention.
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Delegate Ken Plum’s Weekly “Virginia Report”
on Reston Comcast Channel 28
Tonight - Wednesday, May 30 at 10:30 p.m. – Dr. Preston Royster, African American Adoptions, Inc. – “Share Your Life with a Child”
Tuesday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Wednesday, June 6 at 10:30 p.m. – Kristen Skowronski, 7th grader at Carson Middle School – “Phosphates and Our Chesapeake Bay”
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An Online Energy Savings Estimator is available at http://hes.lbl.gov/hes/ to help you determine savings you might expect from upgrades and changes you might make to your home. Links are also available to sites on energy conservation.
Project Opportunity, a program of education and support for teenage mothers is having on-line auction at www.bryanths.org to raise money for programs and services. Place your bid by June 4.
Do you worry that your loved one may be neglected or even mistreated when he/she is not in your care? Do you know a friend, neighbor, or relative that may not be getting the care he/she deserves? Visit the address below to access online resources designed to increase awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults and persons with disabilities:
Additionally, the Virginia Department of Social Services provides adult protective services to anyone over the age of 60 regardless of income or financial resources. Visit the site below to learn more:
Fairfax County is accepting nominations until tomorrow, May 31, for the eighth annual Environmental Excellence Awards Program designed to recognize individuals, organizations and businesses that unselfishly dedicate time, energy and expertise to improve the environment in support of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ environmental goals. For more information call the Fairfax County environmental coordinator at 703.324.1788, TTY 711.
The 19th Annual Clean the Bay Day will be held on Saturday, June 2, 9:00 a.m. to noon. Last June nearly 5,000 volunteers from communities throughout the Commonwealth joined the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s efforts to Save the Bay. Your participation in this high profile event will be a wonderful opportunity to interact with citizens of Virginia who demonstrate grassroots support for a healthy Chesapeake Bay. Contact Charlene Ihrig in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Hampton Roads Office at 757.622.1964 by Friday, May 18, for assistance with finding one of the hundreds of sites close to your home to help with the clean-up.
Join fellow boaters and lake enthusiasts to kick off Reston’s first Lake Cleanup on Saturday, June 2, 9:00 a.m. to noon, at Lakes Anne, Thoreau, Audubon, and Newport. As part of Lake Appreciation Month and in conjunction with National River Cleanup Week, Reston Association is looking for volunteers to get on the water and collect as much trash as possible. Supplies will be available at each lake. Participants will get BBQ afterwards! Contact Ha Brock, Volunteer Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.435.7986 to volunteer.
Take a Watershed-friendly Garden Tour on Sunday, June 3, 1-5 p.m. at public and private homes and facilities throughout the region. For details call 703.228.6427.
Make your own rain barrel! The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District invites you to make your own rain barrels to prevent stormwater runoff erosion and water your garden/lawn with recycled water. Workshop is Saturday, June 9, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. at Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center, 2739 West Ox Road. Cost is $35 per barrel for materials and supplies. Call 703.324.1423 for information or registration or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/rainbarrels.htm. Registration deadline is today, May 30.
The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce has scheduled “Taste of the Town 2007” for June 16 at the Reston Town Center. To celebrate, the chamber has unveiled www.restontaste.com, the new online home of Taste of the Town and your direct link to all things Taste related.
Authorized and paid for by Kenneth R. Plum.
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