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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: May 10, 2012
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov

Improvement plan for Mathews, Middlesex and Gloucester county shellfish waters to be discussed May 23

RICHMOND - A public meeting to discuss a water quality improvement plan for a portion of the Upper Piankatank River and nine tidal shellfish waters that feed into the Piankatank River and Milford Haven will be held May 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Middlesex Family YMCA, 11487 General Puller Hwy., Hartfield, Va. These streams are on Virginia's list of impaired or "dirty" waters because they violate the state's water quality standard for bacteria: Queens, Stutts, Morris, Billups, Edwards, Harper, Wilton, Healy and Cobbs. Shellfish harvesting in these waters has been restricted because of excessive bacteria levels. Bacteria sources identified include failing septic systems, direct discharges of human and pet waste, and agricultural practices in the area. 

Representatives from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Health, and Tidewater Soil and Water Conservation District will 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, or implementation, plan follows the completion of three Total Maximum Daily Load studies by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (Gwynns Island and Milford Haven, approved Nov. 15, 2008; Piankatank and Harper Creek, approved June 7, 2006; and the Upper Piankatank, approved Nov. 15, 2005 and modified June 21, 2009). The studies identified the sources of bacteria in these impaired watersheds. 

The plan will outline actions needed to reduce the sources of bacteria, their associated costs and benefits, measurable goals and an implementation timeline. Corrective actions may include replacing failing septic systems, eliminating 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 fencing, pasture management and streamside buffers on cropland. 

Public participation 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. 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 about the meeting or public comment process, contact May Sligh with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at 804-443-1494 or may.sligh@dcr.virginia.gov.  

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