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Water Quality projects (update 2022)

Many streams in Rockbridge County are impaired, and RACC works with various organizations to address this problem. The VA Department of Environment Quality (DEQ) is the primary source for the clean up effort and partners with local groups/stakeholders to carry out the needed practices addressing the pollution by designing Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plans.

The TMDL or clean water plan, is a science-based approach to cleaning up polluted water so that it meets state water quality standards.  A numerical value is determined which represents the highest amount of a pollutant in a surface water body that is safe for aquatic life, fish consumption, shell fishing, recreation, public water supply and wildlife. Not all requirements for water quality protection can be numerically defined, in which case standards also include general and specific descriptions. One example of this is turbidity which is used as a standard for sediment problems. This has proved to be an insufficient measure for development of cleanup plan. DEQ is currently investigating a more precise way to evaluate this problem.

A TMDL is designed with the aid of engineers – for Rockbridge this is usually from Virginia Tech or Tetra Tech.  The technical plan is included in meetings with potential partners from local government, environmental groups, and landowners. This process normally takes about two years and requires approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency. DEQ then holds several meetings to determine the final goals needed to meet state standards. The Implementation Plan is presented to the State Water Control Board for approval, and a local organization is then able to apply for funding the plan.

Once funding is obtained, the plan is carried out by a local lead organizations along with several partners who have been involved. The IP is usually designed for two years with a third year possibility in some situations. After completion of as much of the best management goals that can be installed during that period, DEQ will follow up with annual monitoring for ten years, usually, and evaluate whether or not the streams have been cleaned up. Since the beginning of the program in the early 2000s, Rockbridge has had four IPs and two TMDLs are in the planning stage.

Implementation Plan Update, May 2022

Hayes/Walker/Otts/Moffat IP to reduce bacteria: Dec 2010, funded 2013, completed Dec. 2015, annual DEQ monitoring to be evaluated in 2025. Lead agency NBSWCD

Buffalo/Colliers/Cedar IP to reduce bacteria and sediment: Jan. 2015, funded Sept. 2017, completed Dec. 2019, annual DEQ monitoring to be evaluated in 2029. Lead agency NBSWCD

Woods Creek IP to reduce bacteria: May 2019, so far not funded.

Little Calfpasture IP to reduce sediment: June 2018, funded Sept 2021, in progress. Lead agency Rockbridge County

Total Maximum Daily Load Plan Update, May 2022
Mill and Moores TMDL: in progress. Technical report due and stakeholder meetings to begin in September.

Total Maximum Daily Load Plan Update, May 2022
Mill and Moores TMDL: in progress. Technical report due and stakeholder meetings to begin in September.

Maury River TMDL for PCBs: This is part of a special TMDL that has been in the process of gathering information and planning the technical document since 2020. Now due to begin meetings on technical recommendations and planning in late summer or early fall 2022.

Rockbridge Water Monitors Annual Report September, 2020 download PDF

Troubled Waters/Building Bridges: a three-part water quality series (Fall 2019), sponsored by Rockbridge Water Monitors Initiative, RACC Watershed Committee and 50 Ways Environment Committee.

First Forum: September 17, 2019
“Water Quality in Rockbridge” (PDF download of PowerPoint presentation)
Nesha McRae, TMDL Coordinator, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
See these VaDEQ TMDL Fact Sheets for more info
/ Little Calfpasture River / Buffalo Creek / Woods Creek /
“Citizen water monitoring efforts”
Sandra Stuart, RACC Watershed Committee (Presentation TBD)

Second Forum: October 15, 2019
“The condition of Rockbridge County’s well and ground water” (Presentation TBD)
Erin Ling, Virginia Tech
“Health risks associated with exposure to contaminated water” (Presentation TBD)
Cathryn Harbor, M.D

Third Forum: November 19, 2019
Conserving Water Quality on the Farm – Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm, Swope, VA

video by Nolan Zunk

Little Calfpasture/Goshen Scout Reservation/Lake Merriweather (updated March 1, 2016)

  • In addition to the data being gathered for the Little Calfpasture TMDL, members continue to seek
    information from the various agencies involved with oversight of the camp.

    • VDH is responsible for wells and septic on the property
    • USACE is responsible for protection of the wetlands below the dam.
    • DEQ is responsible for protection of the water.
    • DCR is responsible for oversight of the dam operation.
    • Goshen Pass is a Natural Heritage Preserve and a division of DCR is responsible for protecting
      rare and endangered species and to provide rehabilitation projects as needed.
    • Another DCR division protects the three caves that are located along the western bank of the river.
    • DGIF is responsible for the Wildlife Management Area that surrounds the Natural Heritage Preserve and for investigation of any fish kills that occur.
  • The committee recently wrote to and received incomprehensible replies from VA Natural Heritage and Governors’ Office about E. Coli in Maury River through Goshen Pass
  • March 2015 letter to the EPA about Lake Merriweather and Goshen Dam

Maury Watershed Monitors (Mar 1, 2016)

  • RACC has received two grants from DEQ’s Upper James Recreation, Conservation and Development Committee to revitalize and reorganize the SOS program that has been in place since the 1990s.
  • Training and certification is ongoing and due to begin again as the weather allows.
    – A website for entering monitoring data is included on RACC’s website and will also be sent to the Izaak Walton League/SOS program in Maryland and the DEQ citizen monitoring program in Harrisonburg.

Jordan’s Point (updated Mar 1, 2016)

  • A whitewater break in the dam is being considered
  • The American Rivers program has been contacted for information.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Mar 1, 2016) (more informaiton here)

  • Committee members have attended the recent meeting of organizations opposing the pipeline.
  • The new route does not come into Rockbridge County but it does cross the headwaters of the Calfpasture and Little Calfpasture rivers which join to form the Maury River (see watershed/pipeline map)
  • A baseline monitoring of the two rivers was begun in November 2014 and that data is entered at
  • The next meeting of the opposition group is scheduled for April 16, 2016.
  • An interactive map of the most recent route is located at

Rocky Forge Wind Project (APEX) (Mar 1, 2016)

  • Members are concerned about the soil & erosion problems that occur in the construction and maintenance of the turbines and the affects of those problems on the water.
  • The turbines will be 550 feet high and will be lit day and night.
  • Although none of the turbines will be in Rockbridge County, they are being built very close to the shared county line, and they will be visible from every district in the county.
  • Information being collected and disseminated by those concerned is available from Lee Merrill

Wellhead Protection and Karst Overlay (Mar 1, 2016)

  • The Land Use and Watershed committees are working toward ordinances that will protect our groundwater.
  • This process begins with the county’s comprehensive plan which is being drafted now for
  • Members of the committees will review and make suggestions on a draft of the Land Use
    chapter when it is available.

Other Activities

  • Members regularly attend MSA, PSA, and NBSWCD meetings, as well as any governmental meetings concerning water issues.
  • Check updates on RACC’s weekly calendar for water-related events.

ACP: Atlantic Coast Pipeline
DCR: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
DEQ: Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
DWR: Department of Wildlife Resources (Formerly DGIF: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries)
EPA: US Environmental Protection Agency
IP: Implementation Plan
LUC: RACC’s Land Use Committee
MWM: Maury Watershed Monitors
NBSWCD: Natural Bridge Soil and Water Conservation District
MSA: Maury Service Authority
PSA: Rockbridge County Public Service Authority
SOS: Save Our Streams
TMDL: Total Maximum Daily Load
USACE: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
VDH: Virginia Department of Health

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