HD47 - Final Report for House Joint Resolution No. 555 Study of Back Bay

Executive Summary:
Through passage of House Joint Resolution 555, the 1997 General Assembly directed the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to conduct a study of the nonpoint source (NPS) pollution problems impacting the Back Bay watershed, recommend potential solutions, and estimate the costs of implementing proposed solutions. Back Bay is a unique estuary in the extreme southeast corner of the Commonwealth, and is also the northern most portion of the Albemarle-Pamlico-Currituck Sound Estuarine System, the majority of which is located in North Carolina. Once renowned for its waterfowl hunting and freshwater sport fishery, the watershed has experienced a significant decline in habitat and water quality over the past few decades. Back Bay has been the focal point for numerous past studies which addressed water quality and quantity issues.

To conduct this study, the Department of Conservation and Recreation established an ad hoc advisory study committee comprised of resource experts from local, state and federal agencies, as well as representatives from local community interests. The Department of Conservation and Recreation contracted with the Virginia Dare Soil and Water Conservation District to provide assistance with the conduct of the study and the development of this study report. Five meetings of the study committee and two public meetings with participation by study patron Delegate Harry R. Purkey, provided a forum for the open exchange of ideas and recommendations. These discussions and contributions by resource experts provide the basis for the NPS pollution reduction strategies contained in this report.

Two legislative initiatives that are recommended to assist the coordination of water quality efforts of the Back Bay are:

1) Establishment of a Back Bay Watershed Commission to provide the framework and forum for future analysis and planning by local leaders to enhance water quality of Back Bay.

2) Creation of a watershed coordinator position at the local level. The position will serve as staff to the Commission and strive to coordinate work within the watershed. Local options to support annual recurring position costs should be investigated and resolved.