Virginia adds 840 miles of rivers and streams to dirty waters list

The number of polluted waterways in Virginia grew Monday with the release of the state’s 2012 water quality report.

The state Department of Environmental Quality added about 840 miles of rivers and streams, 100 acres of lakes and two square miles of estuaries to the list, which is issued every two years. Using data collected from 2005 to 2010, the draft report contains assessments on more than 1,200 watersheds.

The number of impaired rivers and streams stands at 13,145 miles, or 25 percent of all the rivers and streams in the state, a 1.6 percent increase from the 2010 report.

About 81 percent of Virginia’s lakes, or 94,041 acres, are impaired. That’s a 0.09 percent increase from 2010. The number of polluted estuaries rose 0.07 percent to 2,129 acres, or 79 percent of the state’s total.

About 10 percent of the rivers and streams, 17 percent of the lakes, and 5 percent of the estuaries in Virginia received high water quality marks. To achieve the distinction, a body of water must meet standards in each of its desginated uses, which includes the ability to support wildlife, recreation, fish and shellfish consumption and public water supplies.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a statement noting Virginia’s success reducing bacteria levels in waterways. It encouraged the state to take a similar stance to reduce flows of phosphorus, nitrogen and sediments into waterways.

“That’s why it’s important that Virginia employ the same localized approach (to the) nutrient and sediment pollution that continues to plague the bay and its rivers,” said Mike Gerel, a senior scientist in the foundation’s Richmond office.

The report is open to public comment until 5 p.m. April 27. To view the report, visit

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