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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 08, 2013
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov

Draft improvement plan for Middle Peninsula shellfish waters to be presented Feb. 27

Public comment is sought for plan that covers 16 tidal waterways

RICHMOND - A public meeting to seek comments on a draft water quality improvement plan for tidal shellfish waters that feed the Piankatank River and Milford Haven (Queens, Stutts, Morris, Billups, Edwards, Harper, Wilton, Healy, Cobbs, Lanes, Hudgins, Barn, Frenchs, Ferry and Dancing creeks), and a portion of the Upper Piankatank River that are on the state's list of impaired waters will be Feb. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Mathews High School library, 9889 Buckley Hall Road, Mathews. These streams are on the list of impaired, or "dirty," waters because they violate the state's water quality standard for bacteria. Shellfish harvesting in these waters has been restricted because of excessive bacteria levels. Bacteria sources identified include failing septic systems, direct discharges of human waste, pet waste and agricultural practices in the area.  

Representatives from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Health and the Tidewater Soil and Water Conservation District will be on hand to present the draft plan, which includes corrective actions necessary to reduce bacteria levels and improve water quality in these tidal creeks. 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 may include streamside livestock-exclusion fencing, pasture management and establishing streamside buffers on cropland. Measurable goals and timelines for expected water quality improvements are included in the draft plan.

Oral and written comments on the draft are sought from local residents and stakeholders and will be accepted through March 27, 2013.

The plan follows the completion of three Total Maximum Daily Load studies by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (the Gwynn's Island and Milford Haven study was approved in November 2008; the Piankatank and Harper Creek study was approved in June 2006; and the Upper Piankatank study was approved in November 2005 and modified in June 2009). The studies identified sources of bacteria in these impaired watersheds. 

Local residents and stakeholders helped develop the draft plan. "Strong public participation ensures a final plan driven by local input," said May Sligh, DCR watershed field coordinator. "Community involvement in the creation of the plan and support of its implementation are critical to its success in improving local water quality and the restoration of shellfish waters."

For more information about the meeting or public comment process, contact May Sligh at 804-443-1494 or may.sligh@dcr.virginia.gov.

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