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Water Resources

Regional Bacteria Study

A number of Hampton Roads waterways have been classified as impaired due to the presence of levels of fecal bacteria that exceed water quality standards for shellfishing and recreation. Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies and implementation plans must be prepared for these waterways.  However, bacteria data contained in these studies are typically not specific enough to identify the sources of bacteria.

HRPDC, HRSD and several localities are conducting scientific studies to support development of a bacterial identification methodology for the Hampton Roads region. Genetic techniques will be used to differentiate bacteria sources at the species level so that TMDL plans can target the cause of the specific bacterial impairment. Sources of bacteria may include:

  • Wastewater leaks and overflows;
  • Failing septic systems; and
  • Pet and wildlife waste in stormwater.

University researchers from Virginia Tech, the University of South Florida, and the University of North Carolina are conducting the study, which is funded by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and the following localities: James City County, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg and York County. 



Water sample collection at a Moore’s Creek study site:

Water sample collection at a Shingle Creek study site:

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