You can help the river

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Nansemond River and its tributaries are sick and getting sicker, and it’s up to all of us to help solve this problem.

The Nansemond River Preservation Alliance on Tuesday held its River Talk program at the C.E.&H. Ruritan Hall in Eclipse. These talks are always informative and focus on the history, natural environment, wildlife, impact on culture and various other aspects of the river. But this Tuesday’s topic was a critically important one.

The Lower Nansemond received a C- for pollution, while the Upper Nansemond received an F. The Nansemond has been considered polluted since 1933, and there are a variety of causes to blame. The effect is that significant portions of the river and its tributaries are closed to shellfish harvesting.

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The waterway didn’t get polluted overnight, so there is no easy solution. But fortunately, there is an effort under way to identify and eliminate the most prominent sources of pollution flowing into the river.

The Nansemond River Preservation Alliance, Hampton Roads Sanitation District, Virginia Department of Health Division of Shellfish Sanitation, local waterman and the city of Suffolk will work together on the project, officials announced at Tuesday’s River Talk.

“What we’re doing can’t be done by one organization, especially such an ambitious project to help the Nansemond River,” HRSD environmental scientist Raul Gonzalez said at Tuesday’s event.

The effort is already in full swing, as the first phase of the study to identify human bacteria sources has located more than 260 sites of potential bacteria sources — and that’s just during dry weather conditions.

Now more than ever, the Nansemond and its tributaries are crying out for help, and it appears they have a dedicated team committed to improving the river’s health. That’s a good thing.

We all can help by keeping our septic systems in good shape, reporting illegal dumping or discharges, scooping the poop, encouraging elected and appointed officials to resist development in the buffer and not littering — while litter may not introduce bacteria into the river, it certainly is unsightly.

Visit for more information on how you can get involved.