The Shenandoah River is near and dear to the hearts of all those who grew up in the Shenandoah Valley as I did. It is a beautiful river, a great fishing river, and great river for paddling, rafting, and inner tubing. I enjoyed many of those pastimes in my youth, but I stopped going to the river for many years after a canoe trip in which I made the mistake of getting out of the canoe to take a swim – and found myself surrounded by disgusting, floating cow dung.
Unfortunately, my experience is not uncommon. The Shenandoah River is now too often fouled by algal outbreaks and bacterial contamination, making it unpleasant or even dangerous to go in the water. Wastewater treatment plants have upgraded to keep sewage out of the river. Now we need to do the same with the herds of cattle that defecate directly into the water. There is a modest proposal pending in the Virginia General Assembly, HB1422?SB704, that would provide a deadline for fencing cattle herds out of the river. This bill complements the cost share funding that is already provided by the Commonwealth to farmers to build and maintain fencing and alternative watering systems. We are actively supporting this measure as an important step to solving this long term problem.
When the time comes, please urge your Senator and Delegate to vote YES to support this bill, which returns respect to the Shenandoah River.