Lynchburg Water Summit Aims to Change the Future of Local Water

Issue: March 2014 by in Going Green, Inside The Magazine

Every day, right here in Central Virginia, there are wells running dry, storm water and sewer overflows, and high pollution levels in the James River and Chesapeake Bay that don’t meet the current state codes. Something needs to be done to prevent these issues and Virginia Master Naturalist volunteer Bea Stryker believes it is her duty to make a difference by informing the community before these water problems spill over.

According to Stryker, these are extremely important water issues that need to be honestly discussed—which is exactly why she came up with the idea to host a water summit workshop in Lynchburg. On Saturday, March 29, Lynchburg College and the Central Virginia Master Naturalists are coming together on campus to put on Lynchburg’s first Water Summit workshop in order to raise awareness about the top three water problems in the state of Virginia. The local event will be open to the public and will host more than 10 speakers and environmental professionals, including Charles Fishman, the bestselling author of Thinking Differently Can Change the Future of Water, and Bill Street, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the James River Association.

These two men, along with many others, will discuss and provide ways they believe conserving water will not only help the environment, but help local businesses as well. In fact, Stryker contends that the supply of water is one of the most important issues in the city of Lynchburg.

“Businesses need a lot of water, especially manufacturing. They pay a lot of money for water,” she explained. “If you can figure out how to control water usage, you can cut your expenses and water conservation is most likely part of it.”

Stryker gave an example of a laundromat in Las Vegas that came up with a way to heat its water, which allows them to reuse it, cutting drying costs and time for clothes because they are already warm from the water. This also allowed the owners to reduce their water expenses as well as usage. Not only was the little laundromat in Las Vegas saving money, Stryker said, it was also “being green.”

“If you take steps to recycle water and reuse it, change your processes, you actually can control how much [water] you use,” she said. “When people think of utilities, they think of it as an uncontrolled expense. Water is not like that. People just like to live with their heads in the sand; we could run out of water, and we need to be prepared for it. We need to look out for our environment.”

Stryker said that being conscientious about water is more than just being careful with the earth’s resources. Saving something is always important, she said, whether it’s money, energy or water because they all go hand-in-hand and one always relies on another one.

Another topic the Lynchburg Water Summit speakers plan to discuss is the cleanliness of local water. Over the last 10 years, Lynchburg has spent millions of dollars separating the sewer system from the rainwater system. Whenever it rains, the water from the sewers and streets come together and overflows into the James. The James River Association helps to protect the cleanliness of the river by making an assessment of it every two years and by coming up with new ways to keep pollution out of it. Stryker said that the nice thing about water is that it can be cleaned by nature and, because of this, it can be easily conserved.

Tim Mitchell, the director of Lynchburg Water Resources, helped to create one of the solutions which separate the two water systems. He has been awarded for some of his ideas and will also be speaking at the Water Summit. Following Saturday’s main summit, there will also be a tour of the Lynchburg Water Plant and the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Sunday afternoon, March 30.

The Lynchburg Water Summit is open to the public. Tickets are $10, and the cost covers all events associated with the Summit over the two-day weekend. They may be purchased at the door or online at www.lynchburgwatersummit.com.

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