January 6, 2009

The State of Our Water

The State of Our Water: Managing and Protecting the Drinking Water Resources of the George Washington National Forest:

In December 2008, Wild Virginia completed a study of the drinking water resources of the George Washington National Forest (GWNF).The GWNF is a very important regional and local source of drinking water.Twenty-two localities in western Virginia obtain some or all of their drinking water from the surface waters of the GWNF.Appropriate management of the GWNF is essential, as local drinking watersheds comprise approximately 44% of the GWNF lands within Virginia.

View maps and read more about the findings in The State of Our Water.Click to view the Executive Summary (2mb) or the Full Report (5mb).View the Press Release announcing the study and report by clicking here.

Based on information in the report, and through outreach on our part, the Shenandoah Valley Network, and other partners, 40 organizations have adopted resolutions calling on the U.S. Forest Service to improve management of drinking water resources in the GWNF.  Sixteen of the organizations are local governments, such as city councils and county boards of supervisors.  Many other organizations are public entities as well.  Click here to see the list of organizations, and to be able to view some of the resolutions.  All the resolutions have been submitted to the U.S. Forest Service as comments on the Forest Plan for the GWNF.

Water quality in the GWNF is a concern, as fifty streams or rivers and six reservoirs in the national forest were designated as “impaired” in a 2006 statewide water quality assessment by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.Many of these impaired waters are found in local drinking watersheds.(None of the waters were found to be impaired for use as a “public water supply” though.)

The State of Our Water recommends several steps the Forest Service can take to improve the long-term management and protection of drinking water resources in the GWNF.Some very basic recommendations include formally identifying the drinking watersheds within the GWNF, develop management plans and objectives specifically for the drinking watersheds, and work closely with local communities in the planning and management activities.

The current Forest Plan for the GWNF was completed in 1993.Unfortunately, the Plan does very little to address drinking water quality.In fact, The State of Our Water found almost no difference in management of GWNF lands when comparing areas within the drinking watersheds to areas outside the drinking watersheds.

With the Forest Plan currently under revision, now is the ideal time to assess ways to enhance management of drinking water and all other resources of the GWNF.The Forest Service has been seeking public comment on the Forest Plan for many months, and will continue to do so in the early part of 2009.Please become engaged by communicating to the Forest Service how you believe the GWNF should be managed, and what the management priorities should be.

Comments may be made via letters, emails, phone calls, and faxes.They should be sent to the George Washington-Jefferson National Forest Headquarters in Roanoke, Virginia.Contact information is:

Mailing address:

Maureen Hyzer, Forest Supervisor

George Washington National Forest

5162 Valleypointe Parkway

Roanoke , VA24019-3050

Email address:


(Please write “Comment on George Washington Plan Revision” in the subject line.)

Phone numbers:

(888) 265-0019

(540) 265-5100

Fax numbers:

(540) 265-5145

(540) 265-5109