Impaired Streams of Hanover County

There has been concern in Hanover County about the streams identified as impaired and the implications these impairments have on the ability of citizens to use the waters for recreation and religious uses.

Portions of the following streams and rivers in Hanover County are impaired:

  • South Anna River
  • Stagg Creek
  • Newfound River
  • Mechumps Creek and tributaries
  • Matadequin Creek and tributaries
  • Parsleys Creek
  • Sandy Valley Creek
  • Totopotomoy
  • Chickahominy River
  • Bloody Run
  • Beaverdam Creek
  • Boatswain Creek

Portions of Taylors Creek and the South Anna River were listed as impaired in 2004 but are no longer considered impaired.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) monitor waters throughout Virginia to determine whether the waters meet the designated uses for surface waters: aquatic life, fish and shellfish consumption, swimming, public water supply, and wildlife.

In July 2006, DEQ identified about 8,980 miles of streams and rivers that do not meet at least one of the designated uses. The majority of impairments in rivers are for high levels of bacteria with smaller numbers of impairments for dissolved oxygen, pH, impaired aquatic communities and other causes.

Like the rest of Virginia, the majority (although not all) of impairments in Hanover County result from high levels of bacteria. Virginia’s numeric bacteria standard uses two types of bacteria, E. coli and enterococci, as indicators of potentially high level microorganisms that can cause illness if ingested by humans or come into contact with skin. The numeric standard for bacteria is designed to identify waters that have an increased risk of resulting in illness.

The streams that are considered impaired had levels of bacteria higher than a limit in 10% or more of the samples taken over a five-year period. Generally, the risk for illness increases with the amount of indicator bacteria in the water. While common sense should be taken when using these waters for recreation, the impairment does not necessarily indicate that the streams pose a serious risk to human health under all conditions.

The Federal Clean Water Act requires Virginia to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study for most streams identified as impaired. A TMDL study identifies the sources of pollution entering the stream and determines how much those sources need to be reduced to meet the water quality standard. Basically, the TMDL sets the goal for how much existing levels of bacteria need to be reduced for the stream to meet water quality standards and is a tool for targeting those efforts.

In Hanover County, TMDL studies are complete for bacteria impairments on portions of the South Anna River, Taylors Creek, Newfound River, Totopotomoy Creek, Matadequin Creek and Mechumps Creek. Sources of bacteria identified in these studies include failing septic systems, straight pipes (direct discharges of household waste to streams), livestock depositing manure in streams, runoff from pasture, pets, wildlife and others.

A TMDL is also complete for an aquatic life impairment on an unnamed tributary to the Chickahominy River. The TMDL identifies phosphorus as the pollutant (predominantly from an industrial discharge) of concern for this stream. Virginia will complete TMDL studies for the remaining streams currently on the impaired waters list between now and 2018. Following the completion of the TMDL study, Virginia is required to put together an implementation plan outlining the specific actions required to reduce the pollution sources. To date, implementation plans have not been completed for any of the impaired waters in Hanover County.

Useful Links:
VDH Safely Enjoying Virginia’s Natural Waters

DEQ’s Water Quality Assessment and Impaired Waters

Water quality data for specific streams from DEQ’s sampling

DEQ’s TMDL website


Danger Signs: Potential Problems with a Comprehensive Plan

  • No common vision
  • Limited citizen involvement in drafting the plan
  • Vague or confusing language
  • No measurable way to see if the plan is being implemented
  • Policy decisions that are deferred into the future
  • A growth area that is larger than needed to accommodate the next 20-25 years of population increase
  • Sprawling housing: Residential densities of fewer than four units per acre in urban (sewered) areas, and densities of more than one unit per ten acres in rural (unsewered) areas.
  • Policies that will lead to a loss of natural resource lands
  • Lot sizes smaller than 40 acres in designated agricultural areas
  • No coordination with adjacent municipalities
  • No coordination with transportation plan

SOURCE: 1000 Friends of Minnesota

Consensus Forming on Anti-Sprawl Laws?

Excerpt from an article printed in “The Virginian-Pilot” on September 11, 2006:

“Land-use legislation that sailed through the Assembly last winter played an important role in drumming up support for controlled growth. The law requires a Virginia Department of Transportation impact statement when localities make land-use decisions affecting roads.

When VDOT issued its first such report, the forecast stopped the Loudoun County debate dead. Predictions of three-county gridlock spurred a 5-4 vote that could ultimately half a prospective 37,000 new homes….

Serious legislators in both parties recognize that government will never get a handle on transportation spending so long as local governments can approve growth willy-nilly, while passing to the state the tab for maintaining a huge network of roads.

One plan under consideration would require suburban counties to maintain portions of their own ever-expanding network of roads. That job currently falls to the state under laws written when Virginia was a rural domain three-quarters of a century ago.

As tentatively outlined by Del. Clay Athey, R-Front Royal, a former mayor who understands land-use issues, counties would get a road maintenance allowance from the state, much as cities do today. They might also share in the presumed savings if the locality – rather than VDOT – oversaw the work. Impact fees on development in more rural areas of such counties might steer growth toward density.

The plan is far from official, but the fact that once radical notions are even talked about says how far the pendulum has swung.”

Spotsy Turvey

From an article in Bacon’s Rebellion’s Road to Ruin Series, Spotsylvania County is going to spend $144 million to expand its secondary road network but, no one is reforming the auto-intensive development that spurs on demand for roads in the first place….

by Robert Burke
Bacon’s Rebellion News Service

Hanover County’s "Land/Capacity Demand Report"

This is the Land-Capacity Demand Report presented at the August 20th Joint Work Session of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission, and the Economic Development Authority.

On August 30th, just prior to Labor Day weekend, over 50 citizens attended the third joint workshop of the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and the Economic Development Authority. The meeting was facilitated by Clarion Associates and McKinney and Company, consultants to the county.

Planning Director Mike Crescenzo, in opening remarks, stated that “this is the first major revision to the Comprehensive Plan since 1982.” In fact, the Comp Plan update is being pushed through one year ahead of schedule. No citizen input has been permitted at any of the joint workshops to date; however, four public workshops have been scheduled in October. These scheduled workshops are taking place much later in the process and are fewer in number than in previous years.

Wouldn’t a major revision call for more public input, not less? Beaverdam District resident, Willie Mills commented, “There’s a lot of concern over the rush to complete the update. How can citizens respond in a thoughtful way when they have so little opportunity to participate?” CHF spokesperson, Martha Wingfield noted, “While it was valuable to observe this joint work session from the sidelines, I really look forward to hearing what the citizens of this county have to say about the Comp Plan.”

Supervisor Robert Setliff, Chickahominy District, stated the revision process began early “because we need more economic development.” That perceived need is being addressed by proposed expansion of existing Suburban Service Areas (SSA). Other than an obvious link to I-295 and I-95 interchanges, no rationale was provided for the choice of these specific locations.

CHF agrees with Supervisor Chair, Charles “Chuck” McGhee, who stated: “We need to protect the jewel God put in place, like our agricultural resources.” Art McKinney, of McKinney and Company commented, “We must be good stewards…the community needs to agree on where we want to go.” Why then, is the Citizen’s Survey majority opinion, clearly voicing support for preservation of Hanover’s rural character, being overshadowed by a persistent focus on economic development?

CHF is conducting an education and public advocacy campaign to address the need for greater citizen awareness and participation in determining future development in Hanover County. This is what the county should be doing as well.

CHF focuses on issues that MUST be addressed in the Comprehensive Plan update:

* sustainable population growth,
* preservation of agricultural and forest lands,
* long-range planning for green infrastructure,
* a greater variety of housing options,
* a variety of transportation methods,
* balanced economic growth,
* treating Hanover as an integral part of the greater Richmond region,
* protecting the prosperity of Ashland and other small population centers, and
* protecting historic assets.

“Citizen participation is vital for planning the future direction of the county’s growth. A common sense planning policy and land use plan can discourage problems induced by unchecked sprawl,” Wingfield further observed. We reiterate the question put to readers in The Hanover Advocate, “Where are the consultants who can advise the Board of Supervisors on how to retain the rural character of the county?”