DEQ stream monitoring data show that major portions of the Middle River are unfit for recreational use and unhealthy for aquatic life. These streams are called “impaired for their intended uses.” Citizen monitoring supports DEQ’s plan to restore the quality and health of the degraded sections of the Middle River.
The water quality of Augusta County’s rivers are integral to the safe use of the waters for boating, fishing, and swimming. These waters support diverse communities of aquatic life, and their shoreline habitats provide shelter, forage, and movement corridors for local animals and migratory species.
The public use and enjoyment of these waters are being impacted by poor management of land along the stream corridors. Livestock with access to the streams erode stream banks and cause excess sediment to enter the streams. Manure and poorly maintained septic systems introduce fecal contamination into the waters. Poor management of runoff from stormwaters adds to erosion and sediment problems.
Excessive sediment and nutrients from the Middle River flow into the Shenandoah River, the Potomac River, and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay. The sediment in the Bay restricts the growth of aquatic vegetation needed by fish and crabs. It also smothers oyster beds. Nutrients cause algae blooms that consume oxygen in the deeper waters and create “dead zones.”