Altria plants 900 trees to help clean water supply

By Kevin Jeanes - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Many of us learned the hard way how important our water supply is to us. But the quality of that supply is just as important.

But one area company's innovative natural treatment system is keeping our water cleaner.

Roughly 85 volunteers and employees from Altria and Phillip Morris USA at park 500 in Chester stuck it out in the rain to do a little gardening.

But their mission is much more important than just sprucing up their landscape.

"We consider this today a riparian buffer we're planting about 900 trees in an effort to prevent nutrient runoff from agriculture or storm water," said Tony Nobinger of Altria.

A riparian buffer consists of several lines of trees along a river, acting as a filter for water as it heads into the river.

This buffer would mean a cleaner James River, and ultimately a cleaner Chesapeake Bay.

Chris French, the Virginia director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, said the trees they're planting are native to the area and should do the trick.

"Native hardwood is native and gives nature a heads up," he said.

But this isn't all Altria is doing to clean up their discharged water, which already meets the quality parameters by the state.  Another innovative technique was implemented a few years ago.

"In an effort to further reduce our environmental footprint, we decided to construct a natural treatment system, or a manmade wetland," Nobinger said.

The water is actually pumped from the waste treatment back behind me where it then flows down through man-made wetlands soaking up some of the nutrients, where it eventually flows down farther toward the James River.

And now, before it reaches the river, that water will go through another natural cleansing process through the riparian buffer.

The volunteers who creating the buffer were glad to help their community, and were also glad it was raining.

"You know the rain did soften the ground up a bit so that makes digging the holes a little easier," said Altria volunteer Rob Bethea. "Not bad for an office worker. It's great to get out and help the community for the day."

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