Today we welcome Guest Blogger Lisa Ragain, who runs Aqua Vitae, a water consulting organization. Lisa’s message is quite timely, given that the Virginia Senate Agriculture Committee will consider this issue tomorrow, January 31.
It’s confession time. I have spent most of my adult life working on drinking water policy. From the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to the EPA Office of Water, I’m in the loop. I am conversant on drought in Texas, legislative hearings in New Jersey and chemical contamination in Illinois. But prior to last year, I could not tell you what was going on with water in my own state, Virginia.
But when there are rumblings about uranium mining, it gives one pause. Because before I am a water person, I am a public health person. I know of the efforts to clean up uranium mining in the Navajo Nation. Cleaning up water contamination from mining is tough enough, uranium is more so. And the Virginia legislature wants to open up mining again? Hold on I thought, even if the focus was on a sight in southern Virginia, worlds away from the DC burbs.
It was Fairfax Water that really got my attention. This quiet, well-run water system commissioned their own study last year that found uranium mining could open up near their water supplies. What? Mining was more than just one site. This year, Fairfax Water took a giant step and issued a board resolution in favor of keeping the ban on uranium mining. Wow and bravo! And then the volleys began, mining industry and pastors, pro-business and environmental, the full cast of characters. So I finally took action.
In the vein of full confession, I had to look up the district boundaries to make sure of my Assembly member and Senator. Ouch. Then, I was off and running, emailing, and calling. And those of you in Virginia and North Carolina need to do the same. Last week, the Medical Society of Virginia told the legislature to keep the ban. The climate change vulnerability of the primary site, uncertainty about climate, and most importantly, the potential for drinking water contamination are all cited.
What can you do? Join with organizations from Fairfax Water to the Virginia Garden Club; communities of faith to the Farm Bureau; Roanoke County to all of Hampton Roads and more than 10,000 individuals. Support the CommonHealth and Keep the Ban. Most importantly: Write, Call, and Petition to Keep the Ban!