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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 05, 2012
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov

Meetings in Smyth, Washington counties to address water quality improvement for Middle Fork Holston River watershed

RICHMOND - Public meetings to discuss agricultural and residential practices needed to reduce bacteria and sediment in the Middle Fork Holston River watershed will be held this month. 

The first meeting will be Dec. 18, 6 to 8 p.m., in Smyth County at the Hemlock Haven Conference Center at Hungry Mother State Park, 380 Hemlock Haven Lane, Marion. The second meeting will be Dec. 20, 6 to 8 p.m., in Washington County at the Community Center (Dunfield Park), 318 Mesa Drive, Glade Spring.

The Smyth County meeting will focus on water quality impairments along the Middle Fork Holston from above and below Atkins, Marion and Chilhowie. The Washington County meeting will focus on water quality impairments along the Middle Fork Holston from below Chilhowie, Glade Spring, Emory, Meadowview and the Wolf Creek watershed in Abingdon.   

Stream segments in the Middle Fork Holston River watershed do not meet the state's water quality standards for fecal bacteria and aquatic life. Elevated levels of fecal bacteria indicate an increased risk of illness for people who come in contact with water in the affected streams. Bacteria sources identified include failing septic systems, discharges of untreated human waste, pet waste and agricultural practices in the area. Sediment has been identified as a pollutant reducing the numbers and diversity of aquatic life.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will present types and numbers of agricultural and residential practices that are needed to improve water quality to a condition that meets state standards. Potential residential practices include replacing failing septic systems, eliminating discharges of untreated human waste to streams and connecting homes to the county sewer system. Potential agricultural practices for agricultural sources include fencing to exclude livestock from streams, pasture management, establishment of streamside buffers on cropland, and reforestation of erodible pasture and cropland. 

The meeting provides an opportunity for residents, farmers and interested parties to take part in improving and preserving water resources, while increasing farm production and property values in the community.

For more information about the meeting or public comment process contact Patrick Lizon with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at 276-676-5529 or patrick.lizon@dcr.virginia.gov.

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