Scientists give Elizabeth River a “C” in overall average health

Posted at 7:48 PM, Nov 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-19 19:48:16-05

A group of scientists have issued a “State of the Elizabeth River” report, giving it a “C” in overall average health.

While it seems like a “C” isn’t something to be proud of, it’s actually quite an accomplishment for the river – which is one of the three most toxic rivers on the Chesapeake Bay.

According to the report, in 1993 when the Elizabeth River Project entered the picture, the Elizabeth River was commonly presumed dead.

“When we started the Elizabeth River Project, people told me that river is dead and there`s nothing you can do about it. And to go from practically dead to a C, that is tremendous,” says Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, Executive Director of the Elizabeth River Project.

Now their average “C” score proves that something is working.

Mayfield says the Elizabeth River Project organization’s mission is to restore and clean up the river.

The river has seen a great deal of pollution and bacteria problems over the years, largely because of the industrialization on its banks.

“It`s been hugely industrialized and hugely used for a long time. But now the industries are part of the solution. They`re working with us to create new wildlife habitat and cleanup the problems of the past," Mayfield says.

The Elizabeth River Project and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality asked a group of local, state and regional scientists to compile the report in order to analyze the health of the river. State of the Elizabeth River reports are done periodically but this is the first year they have assigned letter grades.

Two branches of the river – the Southern Branch and the Eastern Branch – both received “D” grades, though the notoriously polluted Southern Branch did show the most improvement.

The Lafayette River, the Western Branch, and the Main Stem all scored “C” grades.

Broad Creek and Indian River both received “F” grades.

Click here to see the full report scorecard.