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Media inquiries: Please contact Julie Buchanan,, 804-786-2292.

Date: October 03, 2012
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292,

Public meeting to focus on improvement plan for Henry and Patrick county streams

RICHMOND - A public meeting to discuss a water quality improvement plan for six Henry and Patrick county streams on the state "dirty waters" list will be Oct. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Horsepasture District Volunteer Fire Department, 17815 A.L. Philpott Hwy., Ridgeway, Va. 

This is the first of several public meetings to develop a plan for the Smith River, North Mayo River, South Mayo River, Blackberry Creek, Leatherwood Creek and Marrowbone 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, agricultural practices in the area and wildlife.

At this meeting, the process to develop a water quality improvement plan will be discussed, and working groups will review data on the amounts and sources of bacteria reaching the streams. Citizens will have an opportunity to offer input and ask questions about the plan development process. The meeting will be followed by a 30-day public comment period, which ends Nov. 14.

Working groups will assist in developing the plan to reduce sources of bacteria pollution from agricultural, residential and urban lands. Local residents play a key role on the working groups and should attend the meeting. 

The groups also will include representatives from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District, the Patrick Soil and Water Conservation District, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Forestry, West Piedmont Planning District Commission, Dan River Basin Association, and local government staff and officials. 

The plan will outline corrective actions, associated costs and benefits, measurable goals and an implementation timeline. Corrective actions may include:

- replacing failing septic systems,
- removing direct discharges of human waste to streams,
- stormwater best management practices to reduce bacteria loads in runoff, 
- creating a pet-waste disposal and education program,
- fencing to exclude livestock from streams,
- establishing streamside buffers on cropland, and
- pasture management.

For more information, contact Heather Vereb with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at 540-394-2586 or

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