Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory Technical Report No. 7


Expansion of poultry house operations and use of litter as a soil amendment in Accomack County Virginia has raised concerns for water quality impacts on both seaside and bayside of the Eastern Shore of Virginia (ESVA). This ongoing investigation is examining freshwater stream water quality in Accomack Virginia to identify water quality impairments from poultry operation storm water runoff. Previous sampling data from 2019 has been integrated into this report. Sampling in 2020 followed an extended drought period (base flow) and two inch rainfall events (storm flow) in streams at road crossings in Accomack County Bayside and Seaside drainages. Dissolved Ammonia, Dissolved Nitrite + Nitrate, Total Nitrogen, Total Phosphorous, and Turbidity were determined by laboratory analysis. Temperature, Salinity, Dissolved Oxygen, and pH were recorded in the field, and flow rates determined. Estimates of land cover in the drainages for these streams were used to determine correlations between stream water nutrient levels and the presence of poultry operations, agricultural fields, residential housing, forest, and swamps. No overall effect of poultry operations could be detected. Stable Isotope data suggest little to no input to stream particulate matter from poultry litter or poultry ammonium deposition. Rainfall tended to dilute nitrogen concentrations in streams indicating a ground water source, although total nutrient loading increased with the increasing flow. Turbidity and particle associated phosphorous showed the most dramatic changes with storm events. Data on Seaside ESVA watersheds for stream nitrate values from ten years ago had an overall average value slightly lower than the overall value for the present study. Stream water quality on Bayside will be assessed again in 2021, and will expand to include Northampton County streams with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).



water quality