Plan to clean up Spout Run gets look Wednesday

Posted: December 4, 2012

The Winchester Star

MILLWOOD — There is a plan to improve the quality of water in Spout Run, and the public is invited to comment on it Wednesday.

At 6 p.m. at Powhatan School, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will unveil the draft plan at a meeting that will include informative displays on water quality issues, local cleanup efforts and even a chili cook-off.

The staff at DCR, along with staff members with the Virginia Department to Environmental Quality and the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District, have been working for eight months with local landowners to clean up the stream. The agencies met last spring with local residents at the Boyce Fire Hall to explain the stream’s problems — including high bacteria counts and excessive sediment — and take comments on concerns about the stream.

Spout Run, which runs through Millwood and powers the historic Burwell-Morgan grist mill, and its tributaries — Roseville Run and Page Brook in the Boyce area — are on Virginia’s list of impaired waters because they violate the state’s water quality standard for bacteria.

High bacteria levels could lead to increased risk of illness for people who come in contact with the water. The bacteria comes from failed septic systems, direct discharge of human waste, pet and wildlife waste and agriculture practices.

Sediment is an issue because it settles to the bottom of the stream, killing aquatic life and destroying habitat.

Sediment comes from paved areas, construction sites, agricultural fields and lawns.

The goal of the cook-off is to bring new people to the process of cleaning up the stream.

“We’re so excited about the chili cook-off,” said Jill Keihn, a member of C Spout Run, a civic group working to raise awareness about the watershed restoration.

Students from Powhatan School will be at the meeting to explain the efforts they are doing to clean up Spout Run, which traverses their campus.

Robina Rich Bouffault, president of the Clarke County Equine Association, said there will also be information on how a small horse farm in Virginia has successfully protected a stream.

“This is a very interesting item for all horse farm owners, especially those with overstocked pastures,” Bouffault said. Local horse owners can pick up some good pasture management tips by attending the meeting, she said.

For more information, call Bob Slusser at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at 540-351-1590 or email bob.slusser@dcr.virginia.gov.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com