So much of the progress we have made in restoring our waterways is a result of the great work our residents are doing to change their practices and adopt more sustainable behaviors. These PEARL HOMES are all over Virginia Beach. PEARL HOMES are places where people care about our community and our environment and want to do what they can to live responsibly and help protect our resources.
Our daily habits and decisions make a difference. Whether you have installed a rain garden or rain barrel, made a pledge to “scoop the poop” or switched to a reusable water bottle and reusable grocery bags, you are helping to bring our waterways back to life, and we would like to recognize your efforts.
It takes a community to restore and protect our waterways. We know how fortunate we are to live in this beautiful place. Water is a large part of our daily enjoyment, our recreation, our local food and our livelihoods. We all want to do our part to restore the health of all of our waterways and protect them for future generations to enjoy.
Virginia Beach residents, Apply Now to become a PEARL HOME and help us show the community the great work you are doing. Fill out our online application by clicking on either PEARL HOME or PEARL TOWNHOMES, CONDOS & APARTMENTS. You can also download a copy of the Pearl Home Application or Pearl Condo/apts/townhome Application and mail it to LRNow at Brock Environmental Center, 3663 Marlin Bay Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23455.
If you are already a Pearl Home, look out our Pearl Home Resource Card to remind you of the extra initiatives you can take around your house and yard, and where you can find more information to guide you through those actions.
We reached our recent goal of 3,000 Pearl Homes – thanks to all of the Pearl Homes who made that possible. Keep up the good work!
To continue raising awareness of our Pearl Home program, we are starting a volunteer corps of Pearl Home Block Captains. Block Captains will encourage all of their neighbors to become Pearl Homes with them. As a Block Captain, you can tailor your efforts to your own neighborhood and go about inspiring your neighbors in any way you see fit (door to door, civic league discussion, Pearl Home block party, etc.). If you are interested in becoming a Pearl Home Block Captain, e-mail Helen@lrnow.org.
Learn more about best management practices in and around your home by playing Stormwater Sentries on Facebook!
There are a variety of ways we can lessen our day-to-day impact by making small changes in our daily activities that can decrease the amount of pollution leaving our yards.
Properties that are on the water can help filter out pollutants by planting a buffer between their lawn and their adjacent waterway. Whether you have a bulkhead or a natural shoreline, a Buffer helps to filter out a variety of pollutants and slow stormwater’s entrance to the waterway allowing more to permeate the soil instead of entering the river. Buffers also work to filter and slow water at your curbside, so installing buffers to reduce your street-side stormwater runoff also helps to improve water quality. The best buffers have a variety of native plants, including shrubs, trees, perennials, and non-turf grasses. Read how Tree Protection is connected to the water quality in the Lynnhaven.
If you are looking for a lawn care professional or landscaper to help you develop a watershed-friendly landscape regime, look at the landscapers who have completed our Lynnhaven Friendly Landscaper trainings and let them know that water quality is a priority for you as you work out a plan for your lawn and garden areas. Reducing Stormwater Runoff
One of the easiest ways to do this is by simply reducing the amounts of stormwater that leaves your property. Adding a Rain Barrel to a downspout is a simple and fun way to collect rainwater. Besides helping the waterways by reducing the amount of stormwater runoff, you have a free source of untreated water to water your plants, clean your garden shoes and a limitless number of other around-the-yard jobs. Another way to reduce the runoff from your yard is to add a rain garden. A Rain Garden is simply a small bioretention area in your yard to hold stormwater long enough to allow it to filter down through the soil instead of adding to the amount of stormwater leaving your property.
Reducing Pollutants in Stormwater Runoff
There are a variety of ways we can lesson our day-to-day impact by making small changes in our daily activities that can lessen the amount of pollution leaving our yards. Properties that are on the water can help filter out pollutants by installing Living Shorelines or planting a buffer between their lawn and their adjacent waterway. Whether you have a bulkhead or a natural shoreline, a Buffer helps to filter out a variety of pollutants and slow stormwater’s entrance to the waterway allowing more to permeate the soil instead of entering the river. Buffers also work to filter and slow water at your curbside, so installing buffers to reduce your streetside stormwater runoff also helps to improve water quality. Learn the best plants to include in your buffer in our Buffer Restoration Publication.
Other ways to reduce pollution include using the amount of fertilizer needed. Only a soil test can tell you how much your lawn or garden really needs. Visit our Soil Tests page to find out the importance of soil tests and try a new watershed-friendly soil sample. More fertilizer guidelines can be found in our Lawn Care for the Lynnhaven, as well as other ways to make your lawn care more watershed friendly. Our River Friendly Gardening publication can give you other suggestions to improve the overall health of the Lynnhaven while enjoying a beautiful landscape. And don’t forget, one of the most important things you can do to reduce pollutants in your stormwater runoff is to clean up animals waste. Animal waste contributes excess nutrients and harmful bacteria to our waterways. Ducks and geese are big culprits as well.
A River of Plastic in our River?
Paper or Plastic? The best answer is “No thank you.”
Plastic trash of all sorts has become a huge and ever growing environmental problem. When we do our regular clean-ups in the Lynnhaven, the items that we find most frequently are the ever-present plastic bags and plastic bottles. We fill 15-20 garbage bags with plastic bottles and other plastic trash every six weeks in one 3-4 mile stretch along the Lynnhaven River. Think about that for a minute. Multiply that times our 150 miles of Lynnhaven River shoreline and you have a lot of discarded plastic bags and plastic bottles. The problem of what happens to all of the discarded plastics is a worldwide problem.
There is an area in the center of the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles across called the North Pacific gyre where a circular pattern in the currents traps floating objects. It is t is full of plastic trash—oil bottles, fishing line, nets and ropes, cracked bath toys—for hundreds of miles. Scientists are discovering growing numbers of fish, marine mammals and sea birds with their stomachs full of plastic bottle caps, disposable lighters and other plastic trash. This is pretty depressing information. Add one more dismal fact to this picture. The tiny pellets that all plastics are made from, called nurdles, are being found at alarming levels in some areas of our oceans, out numbering phytoplankton, and mixed in the sands on our beaches.
Each of us can contribute to reducing the problem of plastics in our environment by reducing our use of plastics and carefully recycling the plastics that we discard. Number 1 and number 2 plastics are the easiest to recycle and are the ones that are most likely to actually be recycled. Another way that we can help is to use reusable bags for our groceries and other shopping. This is why Lynnhaven River NOW decided to start selling reusable shopping bags—to help reduce the number of plastic bags ending up in our rivers and oceans.
Our sturdy, foldable bags are navy blue, and feature the LRNow logo, website address and motto, “Restoring the Legend.” Each has a plastic insert to help reinforce the bottom panel. Bags are $2.00 each or 3 for $5.00. Call our office to order: 757-962-5398, or email Reusable Bags.
Duck and goose poop ranks right up there with dog waste when it comes to causing high bacteria counts in the Lynnhaven River.
That’s because an unnaturally high concentration of ducks and geese live year round on our waterways, which means an unnaturally high concentration of poop too. This mixture of domestic and wild waterfowl are encouraged to gather in huge numbers by handouts of breadcrumbs and corn from well meaning citizens.
Feeding the ducks is a little like motherhood and apple pie, yet it’s time to bite the bullet and stop feeding our feathered friends. That simple step could help to eliminate up to a third of the river’s fecal coliform!
Besides, nobody ever said breadcrumbs were nutritious duck food! Waterfowl can also suffer from disease that spreads easily among overly large concentrations of birds. This can be particularly unhealthy for wild ducks and geese that drop in to feed with local birds because these birds are less immune to disease than the locals.
Less than 100 years ago, the Lynnhaven River was a waterfowl haven. Far more wild ducks and geese than we have today wintered on the river, but the birds migrated north in spring and pollution was flushed from the river.
Today, our local populations don’t leave. It is obvious that many more of them live at a place like Mount Trashmore than could live there if people weren’t feeding them. They get fat and happy and bring even more ducks and geese into this unnatural world. And of course, that means more poop too.
For more information, go to: www.vbgov.com/parks
Pet Waste and Water Quality: It’s Not Just on the Lawn, It’s in Your Water
What is the problem?
Scooping your pooch’s poop isn’t just a courtesy for those walking behind you; it is also the healthy and environmentally sound thing to do. Pet waste can be a significant source of water pollution. When pet waste is not properly disposed, it can be carried by rainwater runoff directly into nearby waterbodies or into storm drains. Storm drains in streets and neighborhoods flow directly to a stream, river, or estuary without any treatment. Untreated animal fecal matter and wastes are a source of harmful bacteria and nutrients in water. Just as we don’t want human sewage in our water, it is important to prevent pet waste from being carried into our waterways because of negligence.
Are you risking your health?
People are at risk of getting sick from drinking or swimming in water contaminated by pet waste. Dogs can be significant hosts of disease causing organisms, including giardia and Salmonella, which are protozoan and bacterial infections transmitted to humans by animals. Our beaches in Virginia Beach have been closed due to bacteria contamination and 60% of the Lynnhaven River is closed to shellfish harvest because of bacterial contamination.
The latest research
The environmental impact of dog waste has gone unrecognized for decades. Scientists recently developed a new lab technique of fingerprinting DNA to match bacteria found in the water to the bacteria from specific animals, including humans and domestic animals. Using this type of forensic science, scientists have found that dogs are a significant contributor of harmful bacteria in our waterways.
Other neighborhood water pollutants
Dog waste is only one of many pollutants from our neighborhoods that add to water pollution. Lawn fertilizers, motor oil, driveway sand and salt, and soapy water from washing cars in driveways commonly end up in our streams, lakes and rivers.
Spread the word
Tell friends and neighbors about the affect of animal waste on the environment and our health. Encourage them to clean up after their pets and to dispose of the pet waste properly. The SPCA sells Baggie Dispenser Boxes which you can fill with re-purposed grocery bags for poop scooping for $25. Visit this website for more information and to find out how to install a Baggie Dispenser in your neighborhood park.
For a printable version of this page, click here.