August 11, 2015
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From July 2009 through September 2010, the Rivanna River Basin Commission (RRBC), undertook a study to identify the Rivanna's healthy waters and promote their protection through land use planning in the Rivanna watershed. Virginia Commonwealth University scientists worked with local professionals from the Rivanna River watershed's community-based biological monitoring program, StreamWatch, to identify the Rivanna's "healthy waters" using a well-defined ecological integrity assessment protocol called INSTAR.
VCU scientists conduct survey of fish in area stream.
The study showed that 16 streams (29%) of the 54 streams assessed in the Rivanna basin meet the criteria of "Healthy Waters," and 4 streams (7%) were "Exceptional." Based on INSTAR modeling, this is more than many other parts of the Commonwealth.
The Rivanna Healthy Waters Pilot Project brings a renewed focus of attention on keeping healthy streams healthy while fostering increased stewardship of less healthy and impaired waters in the Rivanna River basin. RRBC will continue to support its member local governments to include "healthy waters protection" when developing community visions and objectives during comprehensive planning updates.
RRBC provided recommendations to Greene County during the 2010 update to its Comprehensive Plan.
RRBC will continue to work with its member localities in the watershed to provide data and to develop tools that will support local decision-making to enhance the protection of and help maintain the ecological integrity of "healthy streams."
Press here for press release issued to announce the Rivanna River Basin Pilot Project Final Report. Listen to the WVTF radio story by Sandy Hausman about the Healthy Waters project here. Read more about StreamWatch's contribution to this important study.
From July 2009 through September 2010, the Rivanna River Basin Commission (RRBC) undertook a study to identify the Rivanna's healthy waters and promote their protection through land use planning in the Rivanna watershed. Virginia Commonwealth University scientists worked with local professionals from the Rivanna River watershed's community-based biological monitoring program, StreamWatch, to identify the Rivanna's "healthy waters" using the ecological integrity assessment protocol INSTAR.
The study showed that, of the 54 streams assessed in the Rivanna basn, 16 streams (29%) meet the criteria of "Healthy Waters," and 4 streams (7%) were "Exceptional." Based on INSTAR modeling, this is more than many other parts of the Commonwealth.
Thirty-six of the streams assessed in this study had occurrences of ecologically or economically important aquatic living resources, including brook trout, American eel, and smallmouth bass, with most of these occurrences associated with "Healthy" or "Exceptional" streams. The study highlighted the need for greater data density across high gradient landscapes in Virginia and indicate that better taxonomic resolution (from family level to genus level) in macro-invertebrate data is necessary to fully apply the INSTAR assessment protocol. Also during the study period, RRBC worked with its member local governments to recognize that identifying, protecting, and preserving healthy waters can support economic prosperity and quality of life.
Recommended next steps:
1. Outreach to local and regional bodies with communication tools that quantify the present and long-term values of protecting healthy waters.
2. Integrating healthy waters protection into Chesapeake Bay watershed implementation planning.
3. Developing tools to assess the effectiveness of different protection and conservation activities in maintaining healthy waters and watersheds.
Final Report - Rivanna River Basin Commission. 2011. Final Report: Rivanna River Healthy Waters Pilot Project. Grant # 319Bay-2007-21PT. 18 pp.
Appendix D - Garman, G., S. McINinch, D. Hopler, and W. Shuart. 2010. Stream Health Ecological Assessment for the Rivana River Basin, Virginia. Final Report to the Rivanna River Basin Commission. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. 27 pp.
Appendix E - Rivanna River Basin Commission. September 29, 2009. Memorandum to Greene County Planning Commission: Review Comments on Goals and Implementation strategies for 2009 Greene County Comprehensive Plan Update. 12 pp.
The Rivanna River Basin Commission provides guidance for the stewardship of water and natural resources of the Rivanna River Basin and promotes activities by local, state, and federal governments, and by individuals, that foster resource stewardship for the environmental and economic health of the Basin.