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Date: April 09, 2001

Strategy to "cap" nutrient reductions in the Shenandoah and Potomac river basins released for public comment

(Richmond) -- Public comment is being sought on a new strategy to maintain the current reduced levels of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. The strategy also outlines a process needed to initiate efforts to achieve greater reductions over the next decade.

The public comment draft of the Interim Nutrient Cap Strategy for the Shenandoah and Potomac River Basins was released by Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources John Paul Woodley, Jr. March 30, as part of Virginia's continuing commitment to improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

"This strategy is an important part of a continuing process to improve the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers that flow into it," said Woodley. "It is the next step in our quest to achieve and maintain the water quality necessary to support the aquatic living resources of the Bay and its tributaries." Excess nitrogen and phosphorus rob water of oxygen and have a negative impact on aquatic living resources and their habitat.

The goal to improve water quality is found in the new Chesapeake Bay Agreement signed last year by Governor Gilmore and governors from Maryland and Pennsylvania, the mayor of Washington, D.C., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator and Virginia Senator William T. Bolling, chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. The agreement calls for the water quality goal to be met voluntarily by 2010 in order to avoid federal regulations.

The interim cap strategy seeks to maintain the levels of nutrient reductions achieved through implementation the 1996 Shenandoah and Potomac Nutrient Reduction Tributary Strategy. Maintaining these levels in the face of increased population growth and corresponding land use changes is the strategy's main challenge.

"We must go beyond those measures that were successful in the original tributary strategy," said Woodley. "This will mean continued improvements in wastewater treatment facilities and increased emphasis on the control of stormwater particularly in urban and suburban settings. It will also mean increased efforts to let all residents of the watershed know they
have a key role in these water quality issues."

The draft strategy lists a number of proposed actions to slow the flow of nutrients into area waters. It also proposes developing a process to determine lines of responsibility and to track all future nutrient flows. This tracking and accounting system will be needed to meet future nutrient reduction goals.

The draft strategy is the result of numerous stakeholder and focus group meetings held in the watershed over the past year. Copies of the draft have been mailed to local governments and other interested stakeholders for review and comment. Comments will be accepted through
June 1, 2001.

Three public information meetings will be held to review the draft and receive comments. Meetings will be held Friday, April 27 in Colonial Beach (exact location to be determined) at 3:30 p.m.; Tuesday, May 1 at the DEQ Northern Virginia Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and at the DEQ Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road, Harrisonburg at 2 p.m., Thursday, May 3. Each meeting is scheduled for two hours.

The strategy can be reviewed on the Internet at either or To receive a copy of the strategy or for more information on the public meetings call toll-free 1-877-42WATER.


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