Originally posted in December 2014; updated August 2016.
On June 13, 2016, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released for the final 2014 report on water quality in the Virginia’s streams, rivers, lakes, and estuaries. The 2014 report is available online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/WaterQualityAssessments/2014305(b)303(d)IntegratedReport.aspx (as of 8/24/16).
The DEQ had released the draft of the report on December 15, 2014.
The federal Clean Water Act requires such a report every two years. The 2014 report includes assessments of conditions in Virginia’s waters based on data gathered from January 2007 through December 2012 by the DEQ (at 4328 monitoring stations) and by over 100 citizen groups and other government agencies. The assessments covered about 22 percent of Virginia’s 100,923 stream miles; about 97 percent of 117,158 lake acres; and about 86 percent of 2836 square miles of estuaries. Every two years on a rotating basis, Virginia monitors about one third of the state’s “sub-watersheds” (small drainage areas that combine to form larger river basins), taking six years to complete a full monitoring cycle.
The report describes conditions overall and lists “impaired” water bodies: those that do not meet state water-quality standards and do not support the public uses designated for the water bodies. Such waters usually require a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study and implementation plan.
Here are key findings from the 2014 report, according to the draft report’s Executive Summary and to the DEQ’s 12/17/14 news release Virginia issues 2014 report on water quality. The numbers are subject to revision following public comment and review by the U.S. EPA.
1) Impaired waters now include 16,039 miles of rivers and streams (about 16 percent of the total stream miles in Virginia); 94,766 acres of lakes and reservoirs (about 81 percent of Virginia’s total), and 2,136 square miles of estuaries (about 75 percent of Virginia’s total).
2) 335 “causes of impairment” in waterbodies statewide are proposed for “delisting,” that is, removing from the list a particular impairment designation for a particular water body, because data indicate the water body now meets the relevant state standards.
3) Compared to the last biennial report, approved in 2012 and based on data from 2005-2010, the 2014 draft report increases the total impaired waters by about 2900 stream/river miles, about 725 lake acres, and about two estuarine square miles. Click the following link for the 2012 biennial report: Final 2012 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report.
Following are some news accounts on the 2014 report (most recent listed first):
After years of work, the Lafayette River in Norfolk finally is looking healthier, Virginian-Pilot, 7/8/16.
Thousands of miles of Va. rivers are polluted, report shows, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/16/14.
State report: 3,000+ miles of Virginia waterways polluted, WRIC-TV Richmond, 12/19/14.