Water quality focus of Oct. 20 meeting

A public-input meeting to discuss a draft water-quality improvement plan for segments of South River and Christians Creek on the state “dirty waters” list will be held in the City Council Chambers at the Charles T. Yancey Municipal Building in Downtown Waynesboro on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.

The draft plan will be presented by staff from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District. Other partners including the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Virginia Health Department, Trout Unlimited, Augusta County and the City of Waynesboro will also be on hand.

The two streams located in Waynesboro and Augusta County are on Virginia’s list of impaired or “dirty waters” because they violate the state’s water quality standard for bacteria. Levels of bacteria in these stream segments could lead to increased risk of illness for people who come in contact with the streams’ waters. Bacteria sources in South River and Christians Creek have been identified as runoff from urban, residential and agricultural land, failing septic systems, and untreated waste from livestock and pets. In addition, excessive amounts of sediment and phosphorus have been found in the streams leading to impacts on aquatic insects and other stream species that serve as a food source for fish and birds.

Over the past year, DCR has worked with public and private partners to develop a cleanup strategy for the South River and Christians Creek. A series of focus group meetings were held so that the plan reflects local opinions and innovations. Staff from the City of Waynesboro and Augusta County has been active in suggesting ways to address pollution coming from urban stormwater runoff, while local farmers have provided suggestions to address polluted runoff from pasture and cropland. Local conservation groups have also participated, including the Shenandoah Chapter of Trout Unlimited, who are currently working on plans to create a trout fishery along a portion of the South River.

While state law requires the South River and Christians Creek pollution be addressed through a water quality improvement plan, most of the implementation actions by local landowners are voluntary

The October 20 meeting is another opportunity for the community to provide input on the plan to agency staff. During the meeting, a summary of the draft plan will be presented. There will also be a series of presentations on conservation and water quality in the South River and Christians Creek. Following this meeting, there will be a 30-day comment period on the plan, which will be posted on the Department of Environmental Quality’s website at: www.deq.state.va.us/tmdl/iprpts.html.

For more information on the meeting or public comment process contact Nesha McRae, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, at 540.332.9238 or nesha.mcrae@dcr.virginia.gov.
 
 

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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