Water quality at five proposed industrial sites on the Roanoke and New Rivers

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Water Resources Research Center, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Aquatic ecological surveys were conducted at five potential industrial development sites in Virginia, four on the New River and one site on the South Fork of the Roanoke River.Eighteen physical-chemical parameters were analyzed and biological information was collected in order to determine the physical, chemical, and biological water quality. This study was designed to generate baseline information essential in assessing the environmental impacts of future development in the watershed. The results indicate that the New River and the South Fork of the Roanoke River support diverse populations of macrobenthic invertebrates and that physical and chemical water quality is high, except for increased levels of nitrate in the New River. Although both rivers have water quality that is considered good by biological and chemical standards, they both are vulnerable. If the assimilative capacity of these two rivers is to be preserved as a valuable resource, they must be used intelligently. Future industrial development shouId be managed carefuIly in these watersheds to maintain the high quality of the aquatic environment in the New River and the South Fork of the Roanoke River.