We’ve been dealing with excessive algae blooms throughout the river ever since a massive fish kill occurred in 2005. That event spawned Virginia’s Fish Kill Task Force to study the problem.
The Task Force discovered many things. None of them good. They discovered male fish with female parts, known as intersex fish. They discovered fish afflicted with infections, lesions and heavy parasite loads. They discovered thick algae growing throughout the river, fed by nutrient pollution from farms.
Since then, the Shenandoah has experienced even more fish kills. And during this time, the river has continued to be plagued by excessive algae.
Three years ago, the Shenandoah Riverkeeper urged the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to place the river on the state’s Impaired Waters List because of the excessive nutrient pollution. Being on the list allows the state to develop plans to reduce pollution. But state officials refused because Virginia has no water quality standards for this kind of pollution. Shenandoah Riverkeeper then mobilized river users to write down how algae has impaired their ability to use and enjoy the river, and submitted those reports to state officials. But officials claimed they have no way to assess these reports.
On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, the Shenandoah Riverkeeper filed suit against the EPA, asking the court to order the EPA to do what is necessary to get the Shenandoah River placed on the Impaired Waters List for excessive algae.
We’ve been waiting for ten years. It’s time to act.
Thank you to Downstream Project for producing this video.