Press Release: Excessive Algae Blooms on the Shenandoah River Lead to Complaints
April 27, 2012, Boyce, VA: Dozens of complaints were lodged today by Shenandoah Riverkeeper with Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requesting that the Shenandoah River be listed as impaired due to excessive algae blooms. These algae blooms which occur year-round on all segments of the river system violate Virginia’s nuisance aquatic plant life standard and interfere with the public’s recreational use of the river.
“In my role as Shenandoah Riverkeeper and as a professional fishing guide, I have witnessed severe algae blooms over several years that hinder recreational use of the river,” states Shenandoah Riverkeeper Jeff Kelble. “When I float a stretch of the river, I almost always see portions of the water column or the river bottom with very significant algal growth.”
During the spring and summer of 2011, for example, the Main Stem of the Shenandoah, through its entire reach, exhibited the worst planktonic bloom ever seen by Jeff. The water was the color of thick green paint for over three months. Fish were sluggish and wildlife activity around the river was nearly zero. The river was unsuitable for recreational use and did not begin to clear up until September. Excessive nutrient loads in the water cause algae blooms most often in the summer and winter months.
Shenandoah Riverkeeper collected over 80 complaint letters which were submitted today along with official comments on the State’s draft 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report for 2012. These letters detail the location and approximate dates of the observed nuisance algae by recreational river users and landowners, and speak to how algae blooms have diminished their use and enjoyment of the river.
“If DEQ fails to list the Shenandoah as impaired due to the excessive algae blooms, it will be a great disservice to the citizens of Virginia who value the recreational opportunities that the Shenandoah River has historically provided,” argues Shenandoah Riverkeeper Jeff Kelble.