Don’t Like Town Water? It Could Get Worse



Cape Charles Wave

July 21, 2014

There’s a limited supply of groundwater in the Cape Charles vicinity, and the town needs to prepare to deal with saltwater intrusion now. That’s according to Elaine Meil of the Accomack-Northampton County Planning District Commission, who addressed the Cape Charles Planning Commission June 30. Meil said the problem is still a few years away, but that the town needs to begin planning for it.

According to groundwater modeling done by the United States Geological Survey, “saltwater intrusion can be expected in town wells over time and the town should be aware of this problem,” Meil said, adding that:

  • Groundwater studies have shown limited groundwater in the Cape Charles vicinity. This is a natural feature of the area.
  • The Eastern Shore of Virginia Ground Water Committee works extensively on groundwater issues and they have funded the USGS to develop a groundwater model. This model is the best source of information regarding changes to groundwater in the Cape Charles area.
  • Long term, the Town may need to change water treatment technologies or obtain water from the Eastville area of Northampton County or possibly from the southern tip.

Town staff has applied to renew the 10-year DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) Groundwater Withdrawal Permit at 68 million gallons per year, a reduction from 252 million gallons per year. The current use is just under 40 million gallons per year, Meil noted. [Read more…]

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EDITORIAL: Drop the Speed Limit to 45


July 21, 2014

How many more people have to die, how many more vehicles must be destroyed, how many more close calls must there be before VDOT awakes to the deadly danger of Route 13 north and south of the Cape Charles traffic light? If Route 13 is Virginia’s most dangerous highway, we will nominate the Cape Charles/Cheriton area as the most dangerous patch of it.

The traffic light itself is not the problem so much as the multiple turnoffs mostly south of the light. Two of our neighbors had their cars totaled in the past few years — one trying to cross the highway to get to the Corner Mart, the other a victim of someone pulling out from McDonald’s directly in front of her.

Last week we saw something new and scary: a full-size charter bus leaving McDonald’s was trying to turn left onto Route 13. Judging by the line of cars behind the bus, the driver had to wait a long time for a break in the traffic.

Why does the speed limit drop to 45 mph on the bypass around Exmore but not in the Cape Charles/Cheriton area? The danger here is arguably worse than in Exmore (which funds their entire Police budget from speeding tickets).

Our most recent heart-stopper (and the inspiration for this editorial) came from waiting in the left-hand lane on 13 to turn onto Stone Road. An 18-wheeler roared past at full speed only a few feet away, violently shaking our stopped van in the jet stream. We were literally “sitting ducks.” And as everyone knows, a 55 mph limit means it is your God-given right (and duty) to drive 60 — and this trucker was doing his duty.

At least we were encased in a two-ton van; pity the pedestrian who tries to navigate that death-trap. Earl Wayne Spady was hit by a truck last month while trying to cross Route 13 on foot at night. May he rest in peace. [Read more…]


Wake Up to Danger of Saltwater Intrusion


July 21, 2014

A few nights ago, plagued by a fit of insomnia, I downloaded a copy of the Cape Charles Planning Commission’s June 30 meeting agenda. Hoping the content would induce a much needed sleep, I quietly perused the document. As usual, it was filled with the same vapid and gooey pap that has come to define the Natali-McCoy Planning Commission. There was some talk of promoting a museum for the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater, but then, buried deep down in the weeds, a discussion of saltwater intrusion, and how it will affect the Town. In a cavalier, dim, nonchalant tone, it states:

The Town has limited groundwater resources. In the future, saltwater intrusion may necessitate the Town update water treatment technologies or possibly obtain water from a different location. 

So, what are they talking about? In a nutshell, saltwater intrusion (high concentrations of total dissolved solids making it unfit for human consumption) is the movement of saline water into freshwater aquifers. Aquifers are saturated geologic materials that yield usable quantities of drinking water to wells. In our case, we rely on the Columbia and Yorktown-Eastover aquifers and there are no other viable economical alternative drinking water sources. The Columbia and Yorktown-Eastover aquifer is considered highly vulnerable to salt water contamination due to the high levels of ground-water pumping from coastal wells (like our Keck wells). As towns like Cape Charles continue to over-develop (large developments such as Bay Creek ), ground-water use increases to the point that these areas become vulnerable to contamination and brings into question the viability of ground-water sustainability.

Well drillers around here can attest to the abundance of bad-tasting ground water in parts of southeastern Virginia– a large body of salt water, known as a salt water wedge has been blamed for undrinkable ground water that extends from the mouth of Chesapeake Bay into the Columbia and Yorktown-Eastover aquifers. For many years, scientists thought the wedge was caused by the incomplete flushing of ancient seawater that had invaded the aquifers during high stands of the sea. Understanding of Virginia’s inland saltwater wedge changed in 1993 when David Powars of the U.S. Geological Survey and geologist C. Wylie Poag, while studying the Atlantic Coastal Plain made an important discovery. Deep sedimentary cores identified a large impact crater formed by a meteorite near what is now the mouth of Chesapeake Bay ( three times larger than any other U.S. crater and the sixth largest crater known on Earth). [Read more…]


Change of Command at American Legion Post 56

On July 8, Dave Steward passed the leadership role for American Legion Post 56 to incoming Commander Joe Vaccaro. The ceremony was well attended and Vaccaro praised Steward for his efforts to support the veterans on the shore. Vaccaro pledged to continue Steward’s efforts and announced that he would seek more membership for Post 56 and advocate for a Community Based Outpatient Clinic for the shore. [Read more…]


SATURDAY 7/26: Cheriton Fitness Challenge VFD Benefit

On July 26, Jacob Parks, Personal Training will host the first annual Cheriton Fitness Challenge to raise money for donation to the Cheriton Volunteer Fire Department. CLICK for poster with details.

Shorekeeper Condemns Move to Begin Oil Exploration

July 21, 2014: In response to the Obama Administration’s announcement to move forward with oil exploration along the East Coast, Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper Executive Director Jay Ford released the following statement:

“We are deeply troubled and disappointed by the administration’s decision to move forward with oil exploration along the East Coast. By the administration’s own admission this move will lead to the loss of thousands of marine creatures through the use of seismic cannons. Furthermore, this move represents a step backwards for America’s energy future. [Read more…]

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MONDAY 7/28: Mega Sports Camp Begins at Cape Charles Baptist

July 28-August 1st from 5:30 p.m-8 p.m., Cape Charles Baptist will be having our free annual Mega Sports Camp.  This camp is for kids K through 6th grade.  We want to give kids the chance to learn more about sports, discover character-building concepts, and discover God’s plan for their lives. [Read more…]

ESO Summer Camp Still Accepting Sign-Ups

For years ESO Arts Center, the Shore’s first arts school, has provided a safe, creative and fun summer outlet for children ages 4 through 11. There is still time to sign up your children and grandchildren for ESO Summer Camp 2014 running July 21 to August 2. [Read more…]