State releases draft “impaired waters” report
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s draft water quality assessment report is available for public comment. The draft, updated every two years, contains a six-year water quality assessment and a statewide list of of impaired waters, including a number in the Fredericksburg area. According to a press release, this year, DEQhas added about 840 miles of streams and rivers, 100 acres of lakes and 2 square miles of estuaries to the impaired waters list. Virginia needs to develop about 1,000 cleanup plans, in addition to an undetermined number of cleanup plans resulting from the 2012 listing. About 260 miles of rivers and streams and 2,700 lake acres have been removed from the impaired waters list because they now fully meet water quality standards. Another 230 miles of rivers and streams and 4,060 lake acres have been partially delisted because of improvements for at least one impairment. The list is based on six designated uses: whether they can support aquatic life, fish consumption, public water supplies, shellfish consumption, swimming and wildlife. Chesapeake Bay Foundation senior scientist Mike Gerel said the report “provides real evidence that pollution can be reduced and streams restored if local cleanup plans are aggressively funded and implemented. Most of Virginia’s cleanup plans to date have focused on bacteria, and consequently this report shows a clear trend of decreasing bacteria levels over the past 20 years. Waterways from the Shenandoah Valley to the Chesapeake Bay where detailed local cleanup plans were implemented are now safe for swimming and shellfishing. This shows that science-based cleanup plans do work and that Virginians do not have to tolerate polluted water. Unfortunately, the 2012 report also documents a total increase in the number of polluted streams, rivers, bays, and lakes in Virginia from previous years.”Email comments on the report can be sent to: John M. Kennedy, DEQ water quality monitoring and assessment manager, at email@example.com. The comment period ends April 27. I’ll have more detail about local waters in a story this week.