New report looks at water quality testing and reporting, gives Virginia a B

published on April 13, 2016


GAITHERSBURG, Md. (NEWSPLEX) — A new report gives Virginia a B for monitoring water quality in streams and rivers.

The Izaak Walton League of America report says state water quality monitoring in streams across the country is haphazard and limited, which can mean people do not know about the health of their local waterways and pollution is undetected.

The league investigated stream monitoring practices and water pollution problems in all 50 states.

According to the report, only two percent of rivers and streams nationwide are effectively monitored.

In Virginia, IWLA says there are more than 94,000 miles of waterways and 872 permanent water monitoring stations, which means most of the waterways are not tested regularly for contamination.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a testing station should monitor 25 miles of waterway, which means the Commonwealth should have almost 3,800 monitoring sites.

These sites can be used to check for things like bacteria levels, mercury, acids, PCBs, nutrients and sediment in the water.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 requires states to monitor the safety of all waterways, report water quality information publicly every two years, and address pollution problems.

However, IWLA reports that states vary widely in water quality monitoring, including the standards used to assess water quality, where and when waters are tested, types of tests performed, and how that information is given to the public.

The league also says many states, including Virginia, have weak water quality standards.

According to state reports to the EPA, more than half of the streams and rivers states have been testing were not safe for their designated uses such as swimming and fishing.

IWLA also says the information Virginia submits to the EPA is old, up to six years out of date.

“There is an alarming lack of timely information about water quality in this country, including in Virginia,” said IWLA Executive Board Chair Jodi Arndt Labs. “Every morning, you can read about that day’s air quality in the local paper or on your smart phone. Yet no information about the health of local streams is five to yet years old. That’s a problem.”

IWLA suggests that states empower private citizens to collect scientifically valid water quality data, which can provide more timely and local information about waterway health.

The league offers training and support to citizen volunteers through its Save Our Streams program.

For more information on the report and Virginia’s grade or on the SOS program, click on the links alongside this story.



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