Bay Journal

Topics: Pollution

Virginia faulted for handling of cattle pollution in Shenandoah

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The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia is treasured for its natural beauty, its mountains and rivers, and its recreational opportunities. The Valley is also home to hundreds of farms, some of them dating back to colonial days, where cattle are the primary livestock.

But those cows are a major source of pollution, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project. The Washington-based nonprofit contends that the state is failing to do enough to curb polluted runoff from feedlots and fields in the Shenandoah Valley, as well as not requiring the fencing of cattle away from nearby waterways. Both issues impair water quality and put at risk those who enjoy the river and its tributaries, the group says.

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About Pollution

Nutrient pollution, the nitrogen and phosphorus that originates from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and air pollution, is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake. In the Bay, they spur growth of algae blooms which block sunlight needed by important underwater grass beds. When the algae dies, they are decomposed in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by other species.

Sediment eroded from the land and streambanks degrades stream health and reduces water clarity. Toxins and other chemical contaminants also pose a direct threat to fish throughout the Bay and its watershed.

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