July 15, 2020

Building a Better Water Future for Virginia

Wild Virginia is calling on all Virginians to join us in an exciting campaign to improve protections for our streams!

We saw serious flaws in the ways our state officials enforce water quality regulations, during the pipeline fights – and the results of those failures have become all too clear as Mountain Valley Pipeline pollutes streams across a whole region of Virginia.

Now is the time to insist that these problems get fixed.

Virginia has regulations called water quality standards – they prohibit pollution of our streams and are supposed to ensure they are healthy and suitable for all beneficial purposes.

The problem
DEQ won’t fully enforce those water quality standards and it has failed to update them, falling behind most states and dozens of Indian tribes. Virginia officials have had 50 years to figure this out but haven’t acted – how much longer do they expect us to wait?

The result
The regulations say polluters can’t turn our waters unnatural colors or make them turbid (cloudy), slimy, sludgy, or smelly. But DEQ’s failure has allowed many of our waters to be degraded in exactly these ways. The Department says it doesn’t know how to identify these problems and, therefore, won’t enforce these rules. We and others have identified some very clear examples of violations but DEQ apparently can’t or won’t see what the rest of us can. See if you can identify the problems in the photos below.

The solution

We aim to achieve the following necessary first steps, to make sure we can stop the next damaging project that would pollute our streams:

  • Make sure DEQ and the Water Board enforce so-called “narrative criteria” – the common sense conditions we can all understand but which so far have been ignored
  • See that the Board develops numeric criteria for solids, which make our waters cloudy and unsightly and harm aquatic life
  • See that the Board develops numeric criteria for nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), which can cause algae blooms when present in excess

We plan to advocate numerous other improvements and will be introducing those ideas in the coming months.

We’ll bring you reports like this every month to let you know about progress on this campaign and to tell you about concrete actions you can take to achieve the reforms we need.

In the meantime, make sure to join Wild Virginia to help us achieve these goals – we will not rest until we get the protections for our streams and our communities that the law requires.