Development process for plan to clean up Southside waterways moving forward

First round of focus group meetings held Tuesday

DANVILLE, Va. – Representatives from Danville's wastewater treatment plant, Halifax County's water treatment plant, Pittsylvania County's soil and water conservation department and other organizations were at Danville Regional Airport Tuesday afternoon to help the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality answer some of the questions that will shape the DEQ's plan to cleanup numerous creeks and streams flowing into the Dan River.

"Some localities have an ordinance for septic pump outs, others do not. That information is very helpful," DEQ representative James Moneymaker said.
Questions discussed included how to keep waste from pets and farm animals out of the waterways and the rate of septic tank and sewer overflows.

"We will use that to help us determine which best management practices will ultimately end up in the final clean up plan," Moneymaker said.

Many at the meeting agreed that the plan should include funding opportunities for increased public education about the importance of keeping animal waste out of the waterways and about what is OK and not OK to put in septic tanks and sewage systems.
The creeks and streams being cleaned up have all been found to have high levels of fecal coliform bacteria.
It primarily comes from animal waste and is a sign that other, more harmful bacteria may be in the water.

The water from the creeks and streams ultimately flows into the Dan River -- a major source of drinking water for Southside.
Bryce Simmons is the chief engineer for Danville's public works department and found Tuesday afternoon's meeting productive.

"It's going to be important to have some flexibility in how we implement this plan. If the city is just given a plan that we're told we have to meet the requirements, that's going to be very hard," Simmons said.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, DEQ representatives planned to meet with agricultural representatives and members of the general public for a second focus group session.

Another round of focus group sessions will be held in early 2018, with the DEQ presenting its final plan to localities in the spring or summer of 2018.

The localities will then be responsible for implementing the plan.

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