An official press release of theVirginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
1930 pony truss bridge over the Banister River in Halifax County, Virginia
RICHMOND— A public meeting to discuss a water quality improvement plan for the Upper Banister River and its tributaries will be held Tuesday, Oct. 25, 7-9 p.m., at the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex and Farm Services Agency office, 19783 U.S. Highway 29 in Chatham. The Upper Banister River and its tributaries — Stinking River and Bearskin, Cherrystone and Whitethorn creeks — are on the state’s “dirty waters” list because they violate the state’s water quality standard for E. coli. Levels of bacteria in these streams could lead to increased risk of illness for people who come in contact with water in the streams. Bacteria sources identified include failing septic systems, direct discharges of human waste, pets and agricultural practices in the area.
The water quality improvement plan has been under development since March. The plan follows a Total Maximum Daily Load study completed in September 2007 by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for the Banister River watershed. The TMDL study identified the sources of bacteria in the impaired streams.
The plan outlines corrective actions needed to reduce the sources of bacteria, their associated costs and benefits, along with measurable goals, and an implementation timeline. Corrective actions include replacing failing septic systems, removing direct discharges of human waste to streams and a pet waste disposal and education program. Corrective actions for agricultural bacteria sources include streamside livestock exclusion fencing, improved animal waste storage, pasture management and reforestation of erodible pasture.
Representatives from the following agencies will attend the meeting to discuss the bacteria reduction plan for the impaired streams: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Pittsylvania Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Pittsylvania County Health Department. Comments and questions are sought from local residents and stakeholders.
Becoming aware of the plan and applying outlined corrective actions is an opportunity for local residents and agricultural producers to improve and preserve soil and water resources and increase farm production and property values in the community. Strong local public participation ensures a final implementation plan driven by local input. Community involvement in the review of the plan and support of its implementation are critical factors in determining success in improving local water quality.
For more information about the meeting or public comment process, please contact Charlie Lunsford, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, at 804-786-3199 or [email protected].