Fairfax Water recently wrote a compelling letter outlining the importance of Prince William County in protecting the Occoquan Reservoir, the main source of drinking water for much of East Prince William.

In its letter, Fairfax Water points out that Prince William County is the most populated jurisdiction in the Occoquan watershed as well as the one with the largest area. Land use decisions in the Occoquan Reservoir watershed impact water quality, for better or for worse.

The Prince William County Planning Office has multiple efforts underway that could significantly alter the character of the county and the sustainability of the Occoquan Reservoir.

Together, the proposed PW Digital Gateway, Data Center Opportunity Zone Overlay District, and changes to the county’s long-term land use map propose to replace more than 2,000 acres of fields and of rural crescent forests by the impermeable surfaces needed for data centers.

Additionally, the proposed “agricultural and forestry” designation in the comprehensive plan update would double densities in the rural crescent with new “rural settlement types” in some areas that would add even more density. Another land of approximately 1,800 acres in the rural crescent of Nokesville is proposed for industrial employment.

Given the magnitude of the proposed changes, Fairfax Water strongly recommends a comprehensive study, led by the Occoquan Basin Policy Council, to assess the individual and cumulative impacts of the proposed development and identify opportunities to prevent degradation. water quality in the Occoquan reservoir.

The model needed for the study is already developed, funded in part by Prince William County, and available to members of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, such as Prince William County. The watershed of the Occoquan reservoir is already highly urbanized, which, for a water supply, is unique. It is essential to understand the potential short and long term impacts before making decisions.

We urge the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to pursue a study and invite Fairfax Water to make a presentation at an afternoon Supervisors meeting to review the concerns raised in their letter and create an opportunity for discussion. Clean water is essential to PWC’s future.

Kim Hosen, Prince William Conservation Alliance

Nancy Vehrs, Native Plant Society of Virginia

Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth

Kyle Hart, National Parks Conservation Association

Ann Bennett, Sierra Club Great Falls Band

Julie Bolthouse, Environmental Council of Piedmont

Joseph Eaves, Manassas Battlefield Trust

Max Hokit, American Battlefield Trust