Category Archives: Water Monitoring

Healthy and Safe Swimming Information Sources – May 2017 Edition

Following is a list of information sources for healthy and safe swimming.  This list was published on May 22, 2017, by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC), with financial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Virginia Department of Health .  More information on the VWMC is available online at; or contact Jane Walker at

Please feel free to re-distribute this information.  If you forward this announcement or post it to your Web site, please let the VWMC know so that the information can be reported it to the funders; to do so, please email:

1.) Healthy and Safe Swimming WeekMay 22-28, 2017

The week before Memorial Day marks the thirteenth annual Healthy and Safe Swimming Week. Nationwide, communities will be collaborating and engaging in discussion about how to maximize the health benefits of water-based physical activity while minimizing the risk of recreational water–associated illness and injury. Together, swimmers, aquatics and beach staff, residential pool owners, and public health officials can prevent the spread of germs by following easy and effective healthy swimming steps which can be found at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site has promotional materials (brochures, buttons & banners, fact sheets, infographics, podcasts, posters, mobile apps, social media library, stories, and videos) to educate the public on healthy swimming practices.  To learn more, see:  (Please see #5 below for more resources from the CDC.)

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is promoting Healthy and Safe Swimming Week and is providing a media and messaging toolkit at  A statewide press release will soon be available at

2.) Beach Monitoring in Virginia

Bacteria levels in coastal beach water are monitored weekly at 46 public beaches on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean of Virginia during the swimming season (May-September).

Water samples are collected weekly by Local Health Departments and analyzed by local laboratories for enterococci bacteria. If bacteria levels exceed Virginia’s Water Quality Standard of 104 colony forming units (cfu)/100 mL of water, a swimming advisory is issued. Enterococci bacteria serve as an indicator for fecal contamination in salt and brackish waters. These organisms are not harmful themselves, but indicate that other potentially harmful organisms may be present. High levels of enterococci bacteria indicate an increased health risk to recreational water users.

Follow VDH’s Beach Monitoring Program on Twitter to receive a notification for swimming advisories

For information about current swimming advisories and monitored beaches, beach advisory and monitoring data, links to local beaches, local health department contacts, special projects, and our new Coastal Beach Monitoring brochure visit:

3.) “Beaches and Bacteria”

This article was updated in January 2014 and is available at  It was first published by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Virginia Water Central Newsletter (August 2004).  The article describes:

  • The difference between a beach advisory and a beach closure
  • The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act
  • The types of indicator organisms monitored at Virginia’s beaches
  • Virginia’s bacteria standards
  • Microbial Source Tracking

4.) “Safely Enjoying Virginia’s Natural Waters”

This brochure, published by the Virginia Department of Health, covers topics such as:

  • What organisms are in natural waters and where do they come from?
  • What are the health risks and how are they determined?
  • Why avoid natural water after a heavy rain?
  • What you can do to protect yourself.

Go to to download a PDF document of the brochure.

5.) More from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Healthy Swimming & Recreational Water web page: — Provides information on the following topics and more:

  • Health Benefits of Water Based Exercise – Chronic Illness, Mental Health, Older Adults
  • Swimmer Protection — Tips for Healthy Swimming, Pool and Hot Tub User Information
  • Recreational Water Illnesses — Germs & Illnesses, Education & Prevention Materials, State Resources
  • Other Recreational Water Issues — Drowning, Injuries, Boating, Sun Protection, Extreme Heat
  • Pools & Hot Tubs — Design, Operation, Disinfection, Regulation
  • Oceans, Lakes, & Rivers — Beach Monitoring, Water Quality Indicators
  • Model Aquatic Health Code — About, The MAHC, Updating, Tools

Natación Saludable — Información en Español —



National Water Quality Interactive Map Tool Released by USGS in April 2017

On April 4, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced the release of a new interactive mapper tool to show data from 40 years of water-quality monitoring, including from the National Water Quality Assessment program (NAWQA).  The mapper is available online at

According to the mapper’s Web site, the tool shows stream trends in water chemistry and aquatic ecology (fish, invertebrates, and algae) for four time periods: 1972-2012, 1982-2012, 1992-2012, and 2002-2012.

Following is an excerpt from the USGS news release on the tool: “For the first time, monitoring data collected by the USGS and 73 other organizations at almost 1,400 sites have been combined to provide a nationwide look at changes in the quality of our rivers and streams between the 1972 passage of the Clean Water Act and 2012. …The interactive map can be used to see whether 51 water-quality constituents, like nutrients and pesticides, and 38 aquatic-life metrics, like the types and numbers of fish, macroinvertebrates, and algae, have increased, decreased, or remained the same at nearly 1,400 sites between 1972 and 2012.  …The map summarizes the first phase of the study—in which the USGS identifies streams that have been monitored consistently for long periods and reports the trends in those streams.  In the second phase, to take place over the next several years, the USGS will assess whether and where billions in investments in pollution control have been effective, identify major causes of trends in U.S. stream quality, provide details on which chemicals are increasing or decreasing, and highlight whether any drinking water sources or aquatic ecosystems are at increased risk.”

Source: First-of-its-kind Interactive Map Brings Together 40 Years of Water-Quality Data, U.S. Geological Survey News Release, 4/4/17.

On Virginia Water Radio for 3-27-17: The Virginia Household Water Quality Program Helps Citizens Know Their Water Better

Virginia Water Radio’s latest episode for the week of March 27, 2017, is “Water from Wells, Springs, and Cisterns Gets a Check-up through the Virginia Household Water Quality Program.”  The 4 min./22 sec. episode, available online at, introduces a Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension program that provides household well-, spring-, and cistern-testing; interpretation of results; and water-management information for Virginia citizens.

PHoto 1 Virginia Household Water Quality clinic ONE box of kits for pickup Mar20 2017 Seitz Hall USED Radio 361

A box of household water-sampling kits awaits pick-up by citizen participants at the March 20, 2017, kickoff for Virginia Household Water Quality’s clinic for the Montgomery County.

Virginia Water Radio’s is a weekly broadcast/podcast produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.  The home page is  Have a listen or two!

Virginians Who Use Private Wells, Springs, or Cisterns Can Get Inexpensive Baseline Testing and Assistance from the Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Master Well-owner Network; Drinking-water Clinics in 2017 Run from March 15 to November 1 in over 50 Localities

The Virginia Household Water Quality Program offers drinking-water clinics in which people who rely on private wells, springs, or cisterns can get their water tested inexpensively for key constituents and receive a report interpreting the results.  The cost to participate in 2017 is $55.  The clinics in 2017, running from March 15 to November 1, will cover over 50 localities.  A list of upcoming clinics in 2017 is available at this Web site:

Meanwhile, as of February 2017, the Virginia Master Well Owner network has over 180 members—volunteers as well as staff from Virginia Cooperative Extension and other state agencies—in several dozen Virginia localities who can assist Virginians with drinking-water well questions and problems.

Both programs are coordinated by the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Systems Engineering.  More information is available online at, or contact the coordinator of the programs, Erin James Ling, at (540) 231-9058 or

For a news account of the well-testing program, please see Virginia Tech researchers: Flint-like problems also present in Virginia wells, Roanoke Times, 4/10/16.

Two Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Announcements from Virginia DEQ in February 2017: DEQ Seeking Water-quality Data from Citizen/Non-Agency Monitoring Groups for 2018 305(b)/303(d) Report; 2016 Citizen/Non-Agency Monitoring Activity Report Available

As of early February 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is seeking water quality data to help assess Virginia waterways for the next biennial, statewide water-quality report (the 2018 report), known as the 305(b)/303(d) Integrated Report (referring to relevant section numbers of the federal Clean Water Act).  Information about the biennial report is available online at (see also this News Grouper link on the 2016 report).

Please note that groups which are part of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Friends of Shenandoah River, or Virginia Save Our Streams, or who routinely upload data to the DEQ Citizen/Non-Agency Database, do not need to resubmit their results.

For more information on submitting data, contact the DEQ’s James Beckley at

Meanwhile, the DEQ’s report summarizing the contributions of monitoring organizations for 2016 is available online at the DEQ’s “Citizen Monitoring” Web site, (click on “Follow-Up Monitoring”).

Information for this post was provided by the Virginia Water Monitoring Council (VWMC).  More information about the VWMC is available online at; or contact Jane Walker at the or (540) 231-4159.  Please feel free to forward this information; when forwarding, please acknowledge the VWMC.

Shenandoah River Algal Monitoring Methods are Subject of Dec. 2, 2016, Webinar by Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality

On December 2, 2016, starting at 10 a.m., the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will hold a public informational Webinar on the Shenandoah River Monitoring Plan/algal field methods development.

Webinar registration online at (that Web site also has information on public viewing at the DEQ’s central office in Richmond and Valley Regional Office in Harrisonburg).

According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for this Webinar, “[i]n response to citizen concerns raised about algae growth in the Shenandoah River, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) prioritized 5 stream segments, totaling about 25 river miles, for follow-up monitoring in 2016 and 2017.  The purpose of this monitoring is to test field methods that are scientifically based, defensible and reproducible, for estimating the percent coverage of river bottom by filamentous algae.”  The Dec. 2 Webinar is for the DEQ to share progress on developing the algal-monitoring methods.  More information on the development of the algal methods is available online at

For more information, contact the DEQ’s Don Kain in Harrisonburg,, (540) 574-7815; or  Sandra Mueller in Richmond,, (804) 698-4324.

$10.9 Million Granted in August 2016 by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for Chesapeake Bay Watershed Projects

On August 25, 2016, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the U.S. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program announced recipients of $10.9 million in grants for 39 habitat-restoration, pollution-reduction, or citizen-involvement projects in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The NFWF administers the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund that provides grants under two EPA programs: the Small Watershed Grants Program and the Chesapeake Bay Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program.  The Bay Stewardship Fund also receives support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and private companies.  For this funding cycle, $4.8 million was awarded to 28 projects under the Small Watershed Grants program, and $6.1 million was awarded to 11 projects under the Innovated Grants program.  According to Bay Journal, this year’s grant awards in Virginia include $3.5 million for 11 projects.

According to the NFWF’s news release of this year’s grants, “Since 2006, the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant Program has provided $58 million to 140 projects that reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.   Since 1999, the Small Watershed Grants Program has provided $47 million to support 773 projects in the region and has further leveraged $136 million in local matching funds for a total conservation investment in on-the-ground restoration of over $183 million.”

More information on Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund is available at, and information generally on the NFWF’s grant programs is available at

Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund Announces Nearly $11 Million in Funding to Support Cleaner Water, Improve Habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation News Release, 8/25/16.
Bay cleanup effort gets nearly $11 million infusion, Bay Journal, 8/25/16.
Grants will improve shorelines, trout habitat, Culpeper Star Exponent, 9/18/16.

For Water Central News Grouper items on grants in previous years, please see these links: