Water Futures Report Resolution

The Page County Board of Supervisors in December 2007 endorsed a resolution in support of the Water Futures Report. Supervisor Hoke introduced the resolution, which passed unanimously.

Click hereto download the resolution. Water Futures Report BOS Resolution

Watershed Map Page County Water Resources Primer

In 2006, the Water Quality Advisory Committee published the Page County Water Resources Primer, a 38-page guide to water sources, potential pollutants and local, state and federal water resource programs. The Primer has been widely distributed in the county, to current residents and to newcomers through the local Chamber of Commerce and real estate offices.

Click Here to download Water Resources Primer

Old Wells Sought for Study of Rare Creature

The Virginia Natural Heritage Program is sampling wells in Luray and Page County for crustaceans adapted for life in the valley’s karst aquifer. Species they are looking for include the Luray Caverns Amphipod (Stygobromus pseudospinosus) and the Madison Cave Isopod (Antrolana lira).

Ideally, wells will be out of use. It is best if they do not have pumps in them.  Old hand-dug wells, drilled wells, or hammered wells are all acceptable. Any sort of monitoring well is good, too. Also useful are any caves that reach groundwater.

If you have such a well or cave, or know of someone who does and would be willing to participate, please contact Wil Orndorff at 540-394-2552 or 540-230-5960, or email at

The Luray Caverns Amphipod is known only in Page County, nowhere else on earth. The Madison Cave Isopod is probably in the area, but its presence needs to be confirmed.

Outreach Events Draw Crowds

Thanks to a generous grant from the Shenandoah Basin Project and Hillsdale Fund, Page County has held three public outreach meetings.  Funding remains for future forums.  Contact us if you would like to suggest a topic.

Water Matters Column Launched

News about water resources – from the fish kills on the Shenandoah River to the best way to plant a wildlife and water quality buffer – will be featured in a series of columns this spring in the Page County News & Courier.

Sponsored by the Page County Water Quality Advisory Committee, the columns will be written by a variety of local and regional experts and will run in the paper about the middle of the month.

Ideas for the articles on water issues emerged at an event held by the Advisory Committee last fall at Compton Rapids on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Many of the nearly 100 Page County residents who attended the water celebration listed their questions and concerns about a range of water resource topics.

“We call the column ‘Water Matters’ because it’s not just something we can think about every once in a while,” said Advisory Committee member Dane Buse of Shenandoah. “Clean water is a basic right for all Page County residents and we need to be sure we care for this vital resource,” he added.

Forum 1:  September 30, 2007 – Water Celebration Held at Compton Rapids

Nearly 100 Page County residents attended a Water Gathering on Sunday, September 30, 2007 at Compton Rapids on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, hosted by the Page County Water Quality Advisory Committee and John Gibson’s Downriver Canoe Company. Among those attending the celebration were sitting Page County Supervisors Charlie Hoke, Tommy LaFrance and John Rust and supervisor candidates Jim Turner and JD Cave (who won his seat in November), county Administrator Mark Belton, county Planner Kevin Henry and Planning Commissioner Paul Otto.

Charlie Newton, chair of the Water Quality Committee and the county Planning Commission, officially released the Water Futures report. He said it will serve as a guide for the committee, landowners and elected officials working to protect and enhance Page County’s outstanding water resources.

County Environmental Planner Chris Anderson explained how the report and the committee’s work are part of local, regional and state water quality programs. Ted Turner of the state Department of Environmental Quality answered questions about recent fish kills on the Shenandoah River, while local environmental educator Jill Keihn led the group in a discussion of water issues of greatest concern.

The event served as a celebration of water resources in Page County and the release of the Water Quality Committee’s Water Futures report. The committee was appointed by the county Board of Supervisors in 1998 to address state and federal water quality requirements and develop ways to protect water quality in agricultural and residential areas of Page County.

Forum 2:  January 29, 2008Luray Caverns Hosts Karst Workshop

A mysterious system of cave, sinkholes, honeycombed limestone and disappearing streams – known as the karst geology system — lies under the ground in much of Page County, according to the experts speaking to nearly 75 county residents at a workshop January 27 at Luray Caverns.

Water travels quickly through a karst system, moving from one-half to more than a mile a day, said Joseph “Joey” Fagan, Karst Protection Program specialist at the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Karst water supplies tend to be plentiful, said Joel Maynard, from the Office of Ground Water Characterization at the state Department of Environmental Quality. He said that wells in karst areas average 72 gallons a minute, twice the rate of wells in other geologic systems nearby.

But these factors also make ground water supplies in a karst system more vulnerable to pollution from activities on the surface. “Allowing pollution on the surface in a karst system is like dumping stuff directly into your reservoir,” Maynard said. Ground water “is your drinking water supply and that’s where the pollution is going to show up,” he added.

When it comes to pollution, wildlife in the caves and sinkholes in karst systems “are the canaries in the coal mine. If they aren’t doing well, your drinking water isn’t doing well,” Fagan said. He outlined state matching grants and tax credits available to landowners to fence livestock away from sinkholes, place gates at cave entrances and plant shrub buffers around these sites.

The workshop was hosted by the Page County Water Quality Committee and Luray Caverns. Other speakers included Tina Kibler and Cindy Miller of the National Cave Rescue/National Speleogical Society and John Walter of the Front Royal Grotto, a cave society.

After the discussion, participants went on a 45-minute tour of Luray Caverns to see the limestone rock, springs, streams and other features of a karst system.

Forum 3:  March 30, 2008 – Drought: Water Quality and Water Quantity Workshop

Speakers from USGS, Clarke County, DEQ, Shenandoah Valley SWCD, Master Gardeners, and Valley Conservation Council spoke on how low water conditions affect water quality and what homeowners can do to conserve water.

The Page County Water Quality Advisory Committee (WQAC) also sponsored the Karst Education program at Luray Caverns for all Page County 6th graders in 2007 and 2008.

These events were sponsored by a grant from the Shenandoah Basin Sustainability Project, a competitive program for groups working to enhance the public’s engagement in water resource issues. The Page County Water Quality Advisory Committee was notified that it qualified for the grant in summer 2007.