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Stretch of Banister listed as impaired waterway in report

Virginia’s 2012 water quality report, released Monday by the Department of Environmental Quality, indicates a 9.52 mile-stretch of the Banister River from Banister Lake Dam to its mouth on the Dan River is an impaired waterway.

This particular part of the Banister River was among 840 miles of streams and rivers, 100 acres of lakes and two square miles of estuaries the DEQ added to the impaired waters list this year.

Used for recreation, the Banister River was listed on the supplemental list of new impairments in 2012 because of Escherichia coli bacteria found after testing.

According to the report, this is the first time this section of the Banister River has been listed.

Also included in the list of new impairments is a 9.43-mile section of the North Fork Aarons Creek used for recreation. It too was listed because of Escherichia coli bacteria found.

Virginia needs to develop about 1,000 cleanup plans, in addition to an undetermined number of cleanup plans resulting from the 2012 listing, according to DEQ spokesperson Bill Hayden.

The water quality report provides detailed information on more than 1,200 watersheds in the commonwealth and contains an assessment of the latest water quality conditions using data collected from January 2005 to December 2010, as well as the statewide list of impaired waters.

“Although the report shows that we continue to have water bodies that are affected by pollution, there has been considerable progress in restoring and protecting our vital water resources across the state,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “We expect to see continued improvements from our cleanup efforts and are encouraged by some of the key findings in the report, such as decreases in bacteria levels and positive trends for the control of nutrients and sediment.”

About 260 miles of rivers and streams and 2,700 lake acres have been removed from the impaired waters list because they now fully meet water quality standards. An additional 230 miles of rivers and streams and 4,060 lake acres have been partially delisted because of improvements for at least one impairment, Hayden said.

Every two years Virginia monitors about one third of the state’s watersheds on a rotating basis, taking six years to complete a full monitoring cycle. The agency has assessed 98 percent – or 1,224 – of 1,247 watersheds since the 2002 report.

The report provides, as in past assessments, the number of stream miles and the area of lakes, reservoirs and estuaries evaluated. Among the information contained in the report:

• About 5,350 miles of rivers and streams, 19,600 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 140 square miles of estuaries have high water quality that supports some or all designated uses – aquatic life, fish and shellfish consumption, swimming, public water supplies and wildlife.

• About 13,140 miles of rivers and streams, 94,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 2,130 square miles of estuaries are impaired.

• Sufficient information was not available to assess about 33,700 miles of streams and rivers, 2,700 acres of lakes and reservoirs, and 400 square miles of estuaries.

DEQ invites public comment on the report until April 27 at 5 p.m. A webinar summarizing the findings in the report will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on April 9. Those interested must register in advance at:

Questions about the report may be submitted online during the webinar.

The draft 2012 water quality report is available on the DEQ website at

Written comments on the report should be sent to John M. Kennedy, DEQ water quality monitoring and assessment manager, by email attachment at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or by mail at P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218.

DEQ requests that all emailed and written comments include the sender’s name, mailing address, phone number and email address.