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Virginia Farmers Pitching In to Purify Waterways

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David Suratt put fencing around the streams on his property David Suratt put fencing around the streams on his property
David Suratt, farmer David Suratt, farmer
State Senator Emmett Hanger, R-24th District State Senator Emmett Hanger, R-24th District
Rebecca LePrell, Virginia director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Rebecca LePrell, Virginia director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

An Augusta County farmer was honored Wednesday for doing his part to clean up the waterways of Virginia.

State Senator Emmett Hanger, of the 24th District (R), says this year the General Assembly approved $16 million to support stream fencing and other environmental projects. He says these efforts are ensuring natural and economic resources are protected.

"It offers a win-win solution for restoring the Bay as these practices not only improve water quality but stimulate local economies and sustain our agricultural industry," Hanger said.

Augusta County farmer David Suratt has just put the finishing touches on nearly three miles of fencing around the streams on his property.

"We have 150 acres on this side of the road, and what we're doing is fencing off the cattle out of all of the ponds," Suratt said.

He says he's just pitching in along with fellow farmers to purify Virginia’s waterways.

"It'll only work if all the other farmers join in and we all try to do the same thing,” Suratt stated.

Suratt has said since he first began installing the fences in February, he's seen dramatic improvements in the wellness of his cattle.

"Used to be we had a real problem with the calves, in spring, calves scouring real bad. And so far this year, we have not," Suratt said.

This project, supported by the state, is designed to keep the water clean and the cattle healthy.

"It's helping this community right here and most of all, it's supporting the vitality of the Bay. And it's good for his cattle as well,” said Rebecca LePrell, Virginia director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Suratt hosted state leaders and other groups who have contributed to these efforts at his Fishersville farm on Wednesday.

"It's good for bacteria reduction, which also ultimately helps with public health because it reduces pollutants in the waterways, and it also reduces excess nutrients in the waterway as well," LePrell said.

Hanger says the Department of Environmental Quality sets certain standards for reducing nitrogen and phosphorous pollution in the Bay, and the goal has already been reached for 2017.

"This area Augusta County specifically was way ahead of many in terms of getting in and getting involved with enthusiasm," Hanger said.
 
Hanger says the progress won't stop here and more work is urgently needed. He wants communities to also focus on rising storm water levels and urban runoff.

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