Water Quality

VA's Waterways At Risk

Dec 22, 2014
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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.

Environmentalists are glad to see Dominion Power shutting down coal burning power plants, but they want the utility to do something about the waste left behind when coal is burned.  

At the Chesapeake Energy Center, Dominion has stored tons of coal ash for decades.  Deborah Murray is an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

“They have just simply been storing the coal ash for about 60 years now in unlined pits, and the evidence is very clear, and Dominion’s own records show that it’s contaminating the ground water.”

While some high school kids are playing video games or watching movies on their cell phones,  eight students from Charlottesville are trying to solve a serious global problem – how to turn polluted water into something people can drink. 

Last fall,students at St. Anne’s-Belfield School decided to enter the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams challenge – a contest that awards 15 grants of up to $10,000 for research on real world problems.  Bob Troy chairs the high school’s science department. 


The Radford Army Ammunitions Plant opened in the 1940s, making arms and propellants for the military and creating jobs in the region.

When it was built, the Arsenal as it’s known, was miles from population centers, but not anymore.  New communities have sprung up in recent years. And concerns about pollution by the plant have also been growing.

Virginia Household Water Quality Program

There’s no argument about the fact that any amount of lead in drinking water is unsafe. 

No matter how much, it’s too much, of this potent neurotoxin. 

But lead has been showing up in well water tests around Virginia. About a fifth of the state’s residents get their water from wells.

Lead does not occur naturally in Virginia’s groundwater, instead, it’s a problem of civilization, namely, indoor plumbing.