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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September 06, 2012
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov

Draft improvement plan for Halifax County streams to be presented Sept. 20

RICHMOND - A public meeting to discuss a water quality improvement plan for three Halifax County streams on the state "dirty waters" list will be Sept. 20, 7-9 p.m., at the Mary M. Bethune Complex, Room 201, 1030 Cowford Road, Halifax.

This is the final public meeting to discuss a plan for the Lower Banister River, Polecat Creek and Sandy Creek watersheds. Levels of bacteria in these streams violate the state's water quality standard and could lead to increased risk of illness for people who come in contact with the waters. Bacteria sources identified include failing septic systems, direct discharges of human waste, pet waste and agricultural practices in the area.  

A draft of the water quality improvement plan will be presented at this meeting. Citizens will have the opportunity to offer input and ask questions about the plan. The meeting will be followed by a 30-day public comment period, which closes Oct. 22.  

The plan has been under development since November 2011, and a series of meetings has been held with citizens, local government officials and staff from various agencies during the last 10 months. Actions by local landowners will determine if the plan is successful in improving water quality. The draft plan outlines corrective actions, associated costs and benefits, measurable goals and an implementation timeline. Corrective actions include:

- Replacing failing septic systems.
- Removing direct discharges of human waste to streams.
- Reducing pollutant loads from agricultural, residential and urban areas.
- Creating a pet-waste disposal and education program.
- Fencing to exclude livestock from streams.
- Establishment of streamside buffers on cropland.
- Pasture management.

The meeting also will feature a presentation on the historical significance of the Banister River by local landowner and historian Martha Coates. In addition, Bruce Pearce of the Halifax Soil and Water Conservation District will give an overview of a new livestock initiative that will offer increased cost-share funds for participating farmers in the watershed.

For more information, contact Heather Vereb with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at 540-394-2586 or heather.vereb@dcr.virginia.gov.

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