Condemned waters increase in Gloucester
Figures from the Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Sanitation, show an increase of more than 300 acres scattered among Gloucester County waterways, including a jump of 124 acres in the Ware River.
On the other hand, the total area of condemned waters in Mathews County dropped about 80 acres, from 1,013 in 2013 to 933.5 this year.
A decrease of 13 acres in the North River, shared by Gloucester and Mathews, accounted for the remaining change, according to VDH statistics.
The Division of Shellfish Sanitation samples local waterways every month for the presence of fecal coliform. When levels pass a certain benchmark, the waters are condemned for shellfish harvest. This is considered a measure of water pollution and it has been conducted in Virginia for many decades.
The division notes that oysters and clams are filter feeders and that because they are sometimes eaten raw, “care has to be taken to ensure that shellfish harvested for direct marketing are taken from very clean water. Waters approved for the direct harvest of shellfish therefore must be much cleaner than waters approved for swimming, fishing, etc.”