By Sabri Ben-Achour
Virginia evaluates the health of its rivers and streams every two years. This year is a mixed bag with many rivers and streams in Northern Virginia listed as unsuitable for fishing and recreation.
About 40 percent of the waterways in Virginia, and Northern Virginia, have stretches where they are impaired in some way. That's 12,000 miles of streams. So, in Fairfax County for example, fish in parts of Broad Creek have too much mercury in their tissue. Sections of Colvin Run aren't healthy enough for bottom dwelling creatures. Areas of Difficult Run have heptachlor epoxide, a residue from pesticides used in the 70's. The most common problem in Virginia inland waterways is actually E. Coli. Mike Gerel is a senior scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
"It's runoff, what's coming from agriculture and what's coming from new development, it's the only source of pollution that's going up," says Gerel.
When waterways are put on this list, they are meant to get a clean up plan. It can take decades but things can, eventually, get cleaned up, some of them. The state has removed 700 waterways and more than 2000 square miles of estuaries from it's impaired list in the past two years.
The report can be found here Advisories on what areas are unsuitable for fishing can be found here.