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Media inquiries: Please contact Julie Buchanan, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-2292.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: November 15, 2011
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov

Nov. 29 meeting to focus on water quality plan for Lower Banister River, Polecat and Sandy creek watersheds

RICHMOND - A public meeting to discuss a water quality improvement plan for three streams on the state "dirty waters" list will be held Tuesday, Nov. 29, 7-9 p.m., at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office, USDA Farm Services Building, 171 S. Main St. in Halifax. The Lower Banister River and Polecat and Sandy creeks 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 streams could lead to increased risk of illness for people who come in contact with water in the streams. Bacteria sources identified include failing septic systems, direct discharges of human waste, pets, and agricultural practices in the area.

Representatives from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and Halifax Soil and Water Conservation District will be on hand to outline efforts to develop a bacteria reduction plan for the impaired streams. Comments and questions are sought from local residents and stakeholders.

The water quality improvement plan follows a Total Maximum Daily Load study completed in September 2007 by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The TMDL study identified the sources of bacteria in these impaired watersheds.

The plan will outline corrective actions to reduce the sources of bacteria, their associated costs and benefits, along with measurable goals and an implementation timeline. Corrective actions may include replacing failing septic systems, removing direct discharges of human waste to streams, reducing pollutant loads from agricultural, urban and residential areas, and a pet waste disposal and education program. Corrective actions for agricultural bacteria sources can include streamside livestock exclusion fencing, pasture management and establishing streamside buffers on cropland.

Participating in developing the implementation plan is an opportunity for local residents and stakeholders to improve and preserve water resources, increase farm production and increase property values in the community.

Strong local public participation ensures a final plan driven by local input. Community involvement in the creation of the plan and support of its implementation are critical to improving local water quality.

For more information on the meeting or public comment process, contact Charlie Lunsford, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, at 804-786-3199 or charles.lunsford@dcr.virginia.gov.

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