Thinking of swimming in the Shenandoah? Think again…


Since tourism is one of the major sources of income in Page County, it is incredibly surprising to me that the Page County Board of Supervisors would allow any more industries or projects to come in here that would further impair our stretch of the Shenandoah River. This is exactly what the new campground being built on [Route] 211 will do. Because the owners, Blue Water, a large and very wealthy corporation, do not seem to be willing to spend more money to put in a bigger treatment system to make sure zero pollutants are discharged, more contaminants will be allowed to flow into our stretch of the river. The DEQ is poised to allow them to buy “credits” from a county much further down stream so they can discharge more pollutants in OUR stretch of the river. 

A report from a water quality monitoring group last year finds that Virginia’s efforts to restore the health and safety of the scenic Shenandoah River are failing. The report urges Virginia to take strong steps to protect people swimming in waterways contaminated with fecal bacteria, including by issuing health advisories, and posting warning signs. Are we doing that in Page County? Where are the warning signs telling everyone the risks of swimming in the river?

The same study found that almost 70 percent of the river and stream miles in the Shenandoah Valley that have been assessed by the state (1,014 of 1,461 miles) had so much fecal bacteria in them that they were considered to be “impaired” for recreational uses. Exposure to fecal bacteria can have deadly health consequences to young and old alike. 

If tourism and recreation on the waters in our county are an important part of our economic business model, then it is our duty to combat any practices that further threaten the safe use of our waterways. DEQ is still operating under the old myth that “dilution is the solution to pollution”… And it seems they only care about what totals end up going into the Chesapeake Bay. We care about OUR county and OUR outdoor recreational bodies of water!  

We have a chance to request DEQ deny the permit to buy credits and instead require Blue Water to build a state-of-the-art waste facility to completely handle the large amount of wastes that will be generated at the site. I’m hoping the citizens of Page County will come to the public meeting on Thursday, April 6 at the Luray High School auditorium, and tell DEQ we do not accept any more projects that further damage our river, and that they should deny the permit until it is re-written.

Susan Corbett ~ S.O.S. Save Our Shenandoah ~ Stanley, Va.

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