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VA's Waterways At Risk

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Virginians tired of the cold weather may already be dreaming of summer plans—days on the beach, swimming, fishing, kayaking, jet skiing, or canoeing on favorite waterways.  But in some cases, those plans could get canceled because rising pollution and bacterial levels force temporary closures of those locations. The Department of Environmental Quality’s latest “Impaired Waters” report makes that scenario more likely for a larger number of waterways.

DEQ's Bill Hayden says the impairment is not necessarily due to more pollutants.

"So we know there's a lot of sources for it, we know a lot more about it than we used to, so in a lot of cases the water quality isn't different than it used to be,  we just have more information about it now," says Hayden.

Bacteria pollution is the most common form. DEQ has added about 830 miles of waterways, 360 acres of lakes, and four square miles of estuaries to the impaired waters list, while only removing 335 waters. Hayden says it means we must be more vigilant in protecting and restoring waterways. While the state struggles to find money for that, consumers can also be more mindful about cleaning up behind pets and more careful with chemicals and their disposal.