Lafayette River on track to become fishable and swimmable by 2014

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The Lafayette River is on track to become a fishable and swimmable river by 2014, the Elizabeth River Project said Friday.

The group released its first ever scorecard for the river, which showed that for the first time in modern history, there were no violations of state bacteria standards for safe swimming last yaer.

The Elizabeth River Project, along with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and more than 100 organizations are working together to create a four-step plan to make the Lafayette branch of the Elizabeth River swimmable and fishable by 2014.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality looks at a six-year average to determine if a river meets swimming standards. Lafayette’s six-year history remains below safety standards.

“Runoff pollution after storms, carrying dog poop, lawn fertilizer and much more into the river from our yards and streets, is still a big problem and we all need to keep working on it,” ERP Marjorie Mayfield Jackson said in a statement.

A year ago ERP introduced the “River Star Homes” project to encourage citizens to pick up after their dogs and reduce the use of fertilizer. So far, 850 homes have joined the project, including 611 in the Lafayette area.

In addition, the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and Norfolk are overhauling sewer and stormwater systems, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is leading oyster restoration efforts, and the Lafayette Wetlands Partnership is working on wetland restorations.

The scorecard also has hope for the return of harvestable oysters in the river. The scorecard showed more than 50 percent of the Layfayette met safe criteria for eating oysters.

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