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Media inquiries: Please contact Gary Waugh, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-5045.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: November 19, 2008
Contact: Gary Waugh, DCR Public Relations Manager, (804) 786-5045, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov

December 4 meeting to discuss water quality plan for Bluestone River in Tazewell County

(RICHMOND) – A public input meeting to discuss a water quality improvement plan for a segment of the Bluestone River on the state “dirty waters” list will be held in Bluefield, Thursday, Dec. 4 at the Town of Bluefield Municipal Building, 112 Huffard Drive. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

A 13.2 mile segment of the river running through Tazewell County from above the Wrights Valley confluence near the Bluefield western town limits to the Virginia/West Virginia line is on Virginia’s list of impaired or “dirty waters” because it violates the state’s water quality standard for bacteria and sediment. Levels of bacteria in the river segment could lead to increased risk of illness for people who come in contact with the streams’ waters. Bacteria sources have been identified as septic systems, direct discharges of human waste, pet waste and agricultural practices in the area.

Representatives from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Tazewell Soil and Water Conservation District, local governments and residents have developed a draft implementation plan to remove bacteria and sediment from the streams so that they meet water quality standards. The draft plan will be presented at the Dec. 4 meeting where public comment is sought. In addition to the meeting a 30-day comment period also begins Dec. 4.

To reduce residential and urban sources of bacteria and sediment, the plan calls for replacing failing septic systems, removing direct discharges of human waste to streams, septic system pump-outs, residential rain gardens, stream bank stabilization and a pet waste disposal and education program. Corrective actions for agricultural bacteria and sediment sources include streamside livestock exclusion fencing, pasture management, stream bank stabilization and establishing streamside buffers on cropland. Together these actions are signed to preserve water resources, increase farm production and increase property values in the community. Strong local public participation ensures a final implementation plan driven by local input. Community involvement in the creation of the plan and support of its implementation are critical factors in determining its success in improving local water quality.

For more information on the meeting or public comment process contact Martha Chapman, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, at (276) 676-5418 or artha.chapman@dcr.virginia.gov.

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