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DEQ to take public comments on water pollution in Virginia
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DEQ to take public comments on water pollution in Virginia

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The Roanoke Times

ROANOKE — The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is taking public comments on how to best clean up the state’s polluted rivers, lakes and tidal waters.

DEQ is updating its biennial listing of impaired waters, which fail to meet water quality standards for one or more of six designated uses: aquatic life, fish consumption, shellfishing, recreation, wildlife and public water supply. Once public input is received, the agency will develop a priority list for cleanup plans, also known as Total Maximum Daily Loads. TMDLs determine the amount of a pollutant a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards.

The latest assessment found impairments in 15,857 miles of rivers, 94,789 acres of lakes and 2,136 square miles of estuaries.

TMDLs have been approved for 33 segments of rivers, creeks and watersheds within the Roanoke River basin. The primary pollutants in the Roanoke River are bacteria from human and animal waste and sediment carried by storm water from roads, parking lots and construction sites.

PCBs, toxic chemicals used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications before they were banned in the 1970s, are found in smaller concentrations but remain a concern. A number of creeks and streams in the Roanoke Valley are also listed as impaired. Among them: Carvin, Glade, Maggodee, Peters, Tinker and Wilson creeks; Lick Run; and Ore Branch.

According to DEQ figures, water pollution statewide has been steadily declining. In a report this year, the agency proposes removing 395 water bodies from the impaired list.

Before developing its latest plan, DEQ is asking for letters or emails from people with suggestions of water bodies in need of TMDLs, or factors that should be used in setting priorities.

A public meeting will then be held on a draft plan, followed by a second, 30-day public comment period. Final approval rests with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The first public comment period runs through Oct. 5. Input or questions can be submitted to Anne Schlegel in DEQ’s central office at P.O. Box 1105, Richmond VA, 23218, or Anne.Schlegel@DEQ.Virginia.gov.

More information on the process can be found on DEQ’s website, www.deq.virginia.gov, by clicking on programs and then water.

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