More than an eyesore

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nearly three weeks ago in his “Riverkeeper report,” Riverkeeper Jeff Turner detailed a recent overnight fishing trip on the Blackwater River just below Franklin (“Riverkeeper report: Riverkeeper calls Franklin dump a festering eyesore;” Feb. 5, 2016). In it, he detailed the horrific conditions on the river’s edge at the old city dump on Pretlow Road, stating, “(the river) is really a mess. Stuff is eroding out the side of the hill and getting into the river. I’m sure there is all kinds of bad toxic crap leaching into the river from that pile of garbage that was put there years ago.”

While we have not independently verified Turner’s claim about toxic material leaching into the river, the fact remains that the condition of the old waste site is more than unsightly. It is totally unacceptable.

When illegal dumping of old construction material led to pollution of the Nottoway River in Southampton County last year, the county’s response was swift. Teams of deputies from the sheriff’s department and other volunteers spent countless man hours patrolling the affected areas of the river, pulling loads of debris ashore. In this case, however, the slow and steady erosion of the riverbank that props up the old dump has been taking place for years and, according to Turner, little has been done to stop it. Even if the Riverkeeper is mistaken and it has been previously addressed, the current conditions are deplorable and further action is required.

It has become cliché in these parts to say that our waterways are this community’s greatest natural asset. So cliché, perhaps, that we now just take them for granted.