Lynnhaven River Now
1608 Pleasure House Rd. Suite 108
Virginia Beach, VA 23455
The Virginia Department of Health, Shellfish Sanitation Division determines where it is safe to eat oysters in the Lynnhaven River. Their only interest is the health of the public and the factor they consider is the bacteria level in the area of the river where the oysters are growing.
The standard for shellfish harvest is very rigorous. The standard for swimmable/fishable is 200 and the standard for shellfish harvest is only 14. Many areas of the Lynnhaven hover right around 14, some months a little over, some months a little under. To determine the open areas, the Shellfish Sanitation Division averages 30 months of data from their monthly testing.
In 2005, only 1% of the Lynnhaven River met this rigorous standard. Today 41.6% of the river is open to oyster growing and harvesting for human consumption. This year, we have 58 acres of conservation reef in the Lynnhaven. An additional 798,143 spat were stocked on these reefs through school and community oyster gardening programs in 2010.
To see this level of improvement in the bacterial levels in the river over the past five years is truly a testament to the efforts of the City of Virginia Beach to improve our stormwater and sanitary sewer systems and to eliminate septic tanks. But this alone cannot explain the level of improvement we have seen. The compliance of boaters to the No Discharge Zone in the Lynnhaven has also positively contributed to these improvements. And so have each of you. If you are picking up after your dog and not feeding wildlife, you are also helping. If you have installed a waterway or street buffer garden or put in rain barrels to reduce your stormwater runoff, you are helping.
To maintain this progress and to move this number up to 50% or 60%, will require everyone’s help. Thanks for doing your part and I hope you have had the opportunity to enjoy some tasty Lynnhaven oysters this past year.
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