The Middle River
Middle River in addition to many other Augusta County rivers and streams are listed as impaired by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Nutrients, Sediment, Bacteria or combinations of the three contribute to Water Quality Impairment.
Sources of Impairment
- Paved Surface Runoff
- Industrial Discharges
- Suburban Landscaping
- Septic Issues
What & Where
Livestock with uncontrolled access to streams in the Upper Middle River contribute to excess nutrient, pathogen, and sediment inputs that are having a negative impact on waters in the Shenandoah Valley and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.
This project will focus on the impaired stream segments of Edison Creek (PS01), Bell Creek (PS04), and Moffett Creek (PS05) within the Upper Middle River watershed with concentrated focus on the special needs of non-operator farm landowners and renters including a growing female community. These segments make up approximately 67,037 acres and are being targeted because they are known to be the three worst of the impaired stream segments with little current activity.
How this project is different?
The focus watersheds of this project encompass a large number of rented pasture acres within Augusta County. The cattlemen renting these lands typically have a verbal contract with the landowner for a short-term lease which makes it difficult for landowners and renters to justify making long-term investments in the land due to uncertainties associated with short-term contracts.
Short-term leases present a significant challenge not only when it comes to implementing conservation practices but also in making general land improvements. This grant will complement traditional state and federal conservation programs by providing the flexibility to offer increased technical assistance, alternative water systems, in addition to the opportunity to offer educational field days and workshops that meet the special needs of non-operator (absentee) farm landowners and renters.
Workshops will emphasize the importance of long-term land lease agreements as well as farmland transition from one generation to the next. One grant objective is to recruit two farmers to install an alternative water system such as a pasture pump or ram pump. The grant will also support the development of a water monitoring alert system that will notify a renter in the event of low drinking water levels in livestock drinking systems, especially in the event of power outages.
Meeting the special needs of non-operator farm landowners and renters will increase conservation practice implementation and achieve greater water quality benefits for the Middle River.
**There remains funding available under this grant.