Waterways cleanup effort vital in Virginia
This spring, I was deeply disturbed as I viewed the James River and its watershed from above on a return flight to Richmond. Snaking below me was a chocolate brown or bright red substance where I once saw blue or green water on previous trips.
My heart was in my throat because below me the most important resource for life was fouled by sediment that chokes out light and oxygen to plants and aquatic life. The condition was not isolated to one area but spread across the state where lakes and ponds showed the insidious fingers of sediment overtaking the blue and green of clean water.
From the air, one can view the overall impact of poor practices from construction, forestry and inadequate funding for best agricultural practices. Through volunteer projects of water monitoring for E. coli, turbidity (sediment impeding light), macro invertebrate (larvae of dragonflies, mayflies, beetles) sampling and general observation of streams and rivers, I can see firsthand the level of degradation of our rivers and its impact on the Chesapeake Bay.
The level of degradation is significant and frightening, but there is reason for hope. The James River Association and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are educating and putting in place best management practices that have raised the quality of our water sources, but we need to do more.
There are tools that can save our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay which have been put forward in the Watershed Improvement Plan 3 for Virginia Clean Water Blueprint 2025. This plan must be implemented in its entirety to stanch the loss of safe water supplies throughout the commonwealth. Legislators must support this Blueprint for Clean Water. We can’t afford to do less to save the life-giving substance of clean, pure water. We can’t live without it.