The Virginia Department of Health this week urged people to avoid the water on more than 50 miles of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River due to dangerous toxic algal mats recently reported in Shenandoah and Warren counties. These harmful algal blooms can contain toxins that cause illnesses and rashes in people, pets, and livestock. The algae are fueled by a mix of warm temperatures and nutrient pollution from cities, farms, lawns, and septic and sewer systems.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is currently finalizing criteria to protect the Shenandoah River from algal blooms through additional pollution limits.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Senior Scientist Joe Wood issued this statement.
“During the hottest part of the summer and peak of recreation on the Shenandoah, it’s a shame that people must stay out of the water to avoid toxic algae fed by pollution. These harmful algal blooms are a serious threat to our waterways and quality of life.
“Thankfully, Virginia is developing standards and pollution limits to protect people and river life from harmful algal blooms in the Shenandoah River. But these criteria aren’t yet final. The State Water Control Board should adopt and implement criteria to protect the Shenandoah from harmful algal blooms when they meet late this year.”