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Rappahannock River

and Tributaries
Bacteria TMDL

Technical Advisory Committee Meeting


August 31, 2017

Westmoreland Berry Farm
Colonial Beach, VA

Contact Information

Anna Reh-Gingerich Rebecca Shoemaker

Regional TMDL Coordinator Water Quality Planner
TMDLs and Assessment
VA Dept. of Environmental Quality VA Department of Environmental Quality
Piedmont Regional Office Northern Regional Office
4949 Cox Rd, Glen Allen, VA 23060 13901 Crown Court, Woodbridge, VA 22193
Telephone: 804-527-5021 Telephone: 703-583-3807
Anna.Reh-Gingerich@deq.virginia.gov Rebecca.Shoemaker@deq.virginia.gov

Karen Kline
Research Scientist
Virginia Tech Biological Systems Engineering
155 Ag Quad Lane (MC 0303), Blacksburg, VA 24061
Telephone: 540-231-0094


TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads) are being developed for ten bacteria impaired surface
water segments within the Rappahannock River watershed approximately between Port Royal,
Virginia downstream to Fones Cliffs (Figure 1). The purpose of this Technical Advisory
Committee (TAC) meeting is to review and revise, as needed, the initial bacteria source
assessment for this Rappahannock River study area.

Figure 1. Rappahannock River study area.

Bacteria TMDLs were developed for the Rappahannock River above the study area (Bacteria
TMDL for the Tidal Freshwater Rappahannock River Watershed, 2008,
http://www.deq.virginia.gov/portals/0/DEQ/Water/TMDL/apptmdls/rapprvr/rapptfec.pdf) and
below the study area (Shellfish Bacteria TMDL Developments for Upper Rappahannock Tidal
River, Unsegmented Estuaries in E23, Little Carter Creek, Jugs Creek, Piscataway Creek, Mark
Haven Beach and Garretts Marina, 2010,
http://www.deq.virginia.gov/portals/0/DEQ/Water/TMDL/apptmdls/shellfish/urappsf.pdf). The
land use and bacteria source estimates presented in this handout address the Rappahannock River
drainage area between the previous TMDL areas.

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General Watershed Characterization

The information in this handout provides a snapshot of the watershed characteristics using the
most recent data available. In order to complete the bacteria TMDLs, we will need to know of
any major changes (for example, the beginning or ending of a large agricultural operation, a
major effort to install BMPs, or a large change in land use) that have occurred historically or are
planned, so that we may accurately calibrate the models for the watershed and predict future

To identify localized bacteria sources within the impaired segments, the Rappahannock River
study area was divided into eight watersheds (Figure 2). Note that the term Rappahannock
River in the following tables refers to the portion of the Rappahannock River study area that is
not included in the Mill Creek, Jetts Creek, Portobago Creek, Stillwater Creek, Baylors Creek,
Elmwood Creek or Peedee Creek watersheds.

Figure 2. Watersheds within the Rappahannock River study area.

Land Use
Land Use Categories
Categorizing land uses helps to identify the distribution of bacteria loads from different nonpoint
sources to appropriate areas within the watershed. Categorizing land uses also aids in the
estimation of certain animal populations, particularly wildlife.

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Land Use Estimate Methodology
The USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) 2016 Virginia Cropland Data Layer
(CDL) was used to obtain the initial land use estimates. The 2016 NASS CDL NLCD is created
based on interpretation of satellite imagery, and is a land cover dataset; therefore, some
misinterpretations of land use may arise where the cover on the land poorly reflects the use (e.g.,
forested residential areas, large park areas etc.). If you see any major discrepancies, please let us
know. The detailed NASS CDL land cover groups have been grouped into six main categories
(Figure 3, Table 1).

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Figure 3. Generalized Land Use Categories derived from the 2016 National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) cropland data layer for the use in
development of the Bacteria TMDLs for the Rappahannock River study area.

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Table 1. Land Use Breakdown for the Rappahannock River Study Area (acres).
Forest Cropland Pasture/Hay Developed Wetlands Water Total
acres % acres % acres % acres % acres % acres % acres
Mill Creek 18,364 83 779 4 84 <1 1,529 7 1,245 6 161 <1 22,161

Jetts Creek 4,000 72 474 9 435 8 354 6 296 5 7 <1 5,566

Portabago Creek 7,126 83 455 5 74 1 478 6 414 5 16 <1 8,563

Stillwater Creek 1,459 41 1,401 39 64 2 129 4 494 14 23 <1 3,570

Baylors Creek 2,745 73 619 16 87 2 89 2 172 5 66 2 3,777

Elmwood Creek 3,727 74 863 17 70 1 154 3 234 5 3 <1 5,052

Peedee Creek 4,197 48 2,901 33 154 2 183 2 1,239 14 65 1 8,739

Rappahannock River 8,305 26 9,199 29 1,169 4 541 2 5,140 16 7,403 23 31,758

TOTAL Rappahannock
49,923 56 16,690 19 2,136 2 3,458 4 9,235 10 7,744 9 89,187
River Study Area

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Livestock Numbers
Dairy Cow Estimate Methodology
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) reports one dairy
operation in Westmoreland County that is partially in the Rappahannock River study area. The
dairy owner will be contacted to obtain information on storage and field application of dairy
manure. If you can share knowledge of the existence of other dairies in the watershed, it will be
Beef Cattle Estimate Methodology
Beef cattle populations were originally estimated from the 2012 USDA NASS Census of
Agriculture. These estimates were lowered based on information from stakeholders at a TAC
meeting on May 16, 2017, and a watershed tour on May 17, 2017. Estimates for review are listed
in Table 2.

Dairy and Beef Cattle Numbers Use

Manure from cattle can be directly deposited to the land surface (pasture or loafing lots), directly
deposited to the stream (for pastures with stream access), or collected from animals in
confinement. Manure collected in confinement is later spread on the land surface. Traditional
methodology uses the following application rates to calculate the amount of manure that is land-
applied: 24,000 lb/ac-yr for solid cattle manure; 6,600 gal/ac-yr for liquid dairy manure to crops;
and 3,900 gal/ac-yr for liquid dairy manure to pasture. Actual application rates usually vary quite
a bit between watersheds, and so we would welcome more locally relevant application rates. The
total manure produced is calculated as the product of the total number of cattle and their manure
production rate; it is then apportioned to the aforementioned categories based on the percent of
time the cattle spend in pastures, loafing lots, streams, and confinement.

Other Livestock
Other Livestock Estimate Methodology
The USDA NASS survey provides inventories of pigs, horses, goats, and sheep (among others)
on a county-wide basis in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The fraction of pastured county area
present in each watershed is multiplied by the total animal population for the county to make
these estimates (Table 2). These are quite uncertain estimates, as the animal populations reported
in the NASS may come from only a couple of farms in each county that may not even be located
in the study area watershed. Local knowledge is essential to create accurate estimates of
populations for these animals. For example, the estimated number of horses was increased
slightly based on information provided at the TAC meeting on May 16, 2017. The 2012 Ag
Census had no swine reported in King George, Richmond, or Westmoreland Counties. The
number of swine in Caroline and Essex Counties were minimal, so hogs were not included in the
source assessment for the Rappahannock River watershed. Poultry numbers were also low for the
five counties and were not included in the source assessment.

Other Livestock Numbers Use

These animals are assumed to occupy pasture with minimal fecal contributions to the stream. If
horses, goats, or sheep have significant stream access in these watersheds, please let us know.

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Table 2. Livestock Estimates from the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture and Stakeholders for the
Rappahannock River Study Area.
Watershed Cattle Horses Goats Sheep*
Mill Creek 4 8 2 3

Jetts Creek 28 21 4 0

Portabago Creek 4 7 2 2

Stillwater Creek 5 4 1 0

Baylors Creek 7 6 2 0

Elmwood Creek 5 4 2 0

Peedee Creek 0 5 1 2

Rappahannock River 40 52 12 10
TOTAL 93 107 26 17
*Includes lambs and ewes


There are numerous fields in the Rappahannock River study area that are permitted to receive
biosolids applications. Biosolids data provided by DEQ will be included in TMDL development.
Biosolids are land based and applied to crop and pasture lands.

Household Numbers
Human Population Estimate Methodology
Human population estimates are based on the 2010 United States Census Block Group
information and county structure data. Block groups provide population information on a scale
much smaller than the county scale. However, although they are smaller than counties, block
groups still present difficulty because they are not drawn on watershed lines. Structures data
provided by the counties were used to refine human population estimate on people per
household. Population in the Rappahannock River study area is estimated at 2.1 people per

Failing Septic Systems

Septic system failure can result in the rise of effluent to the soil surface. Surface runoff can
transport the effluent, containing fecal bacteria, to receiving waters. The number of failing septic
systems in each watershed is based on a substandard system assessment by the Virginia
Department of Health (VDH). In this assessment, VDH surveyed each Virginia jurisdiction for
data on the number of substandard systems. The percent substandard for Caroline County is
1.1% which means approximately 1.1% of all septic systems are failing or are straight pipes. The
percent substandard for Essex County is 0.6%, King George County is 2.2%, Richmond County
is 0.6%, and Westmoreland County is 1.0%. These estimates result in an overall average 1.2% of

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septic systems in the Rappahannock River study area are substandard, however, the failure rate
does vary by watershed based on the counties (Table 3).

Straight Pipes
Bacteria discharged from straight pipes enter the stream directly, without treatment or die-off. As
noted in the failing septic systems discussion, VDH included straight pipes within its definition
of substandard systems. Based on information obtained from the TAC meeting on May 16, 2017,
it is estimated that there are no straight pipes in these watersheds. Therefore, all substandard
systems are estimated as failing septic systems.

Pet Estimate Methodology
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) publishes findings from the biennial American
Pet Products Associated National Pet Owners Survey for the United States on its website. For the
2015-2016 survey: 44% of American households owned an average of 1.43 dogs, and 35% of
American households owned an average of 2.00 cats (HSUS, 2017,
Assuming that a unit pet is one dog or two cats, this yields (0.44*1.43 + (0.35*2.00)/2) = 0.979
unit pets per household. For this study this pet ratio is estimated as one pet per household (Table

Table 3. Household Estimates from 2010 United States Census and County Address Data for the
Rappahannock River Study Area.
Failing Direct Household
Houses Houses
Watershed Pets* Septic Sewage to
on Sewer on Septic
Systems** Stream***
Mill Creek 0 4 4 0 0

Jetts Creek 0 176 176 4 0

Portabago Creek 0 75 75 1 0

Stillwater Creek 0 8 8 0 0

Baylors Creek 0 34 34 0 0

Elmwood Creek 0 61 61 0 0

Peedee Creek 0 98 98 1 0

Rappahannock River 0 293 293 3 0

TOTAL 0 749 749 9 0
*Assumes one pet per household
**Estimated Failing Septic Systems, approximately 1.2% failure rate
***Assumed no straight pipes/direct household sewage pipes

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Wildlife Numbers

Wildlife Population Estimate Methodology

The wildlife population estimates are obtained through an analysis of appropriate habitat area
and surrounding waterbodies in the watershed. These estimates are based on habitat and
population density estimates used in other TMDL watersheds (including the two Rappahannock
TMDLs mentioned previously), obtained from VDGIF, and reported in the literature, and include
some adjustments we have made to create what we consider to be more reasonable estimates.
The exact methods used are listed in Table 4. Wildlife population estimates based on Table 4 are
shown in Table 5.

Wildlife Number Use

Wildlife are assumed to deposit feces on their appropriate habitat areas. Each type of wildlife is
also assumed to spend a varying amount of time in the stream. The bacteria produced by each type
of wildlife are distributed to the stream and to the land surface based on the fraction of time spent
in the stream and the available land use areas.

Table 4. Wildlife Habitat and Population Density Estimates.

Wildlife Population Density
type (animal/ac-habitat) (acres/animal)

Deer Entire watershed 0.041 24.0

low density on forests not in high density area; high

Low density: 0.016 62.5
Raccoons density on forest within 600 ft of a permanent water
High density: 0.05 20.0
source or 0.5 mile of cropland
6/mile of ditch or medium sized stream intersecting
cropland; 4/mile of ditch or medium sized stream --see habitat
intersecting pasture; 5/mile of pond or lake edge; column--
2.5/ac of freshwater swamp
4.8/mile of perennial streams; and 3.8/mile of lake or --see habitat
pond shore column--
0.129 (off season) 7.7 (off season)
Geese* 300 ft buffer around main streams
0.182 (peak season) 5.5 (peak season)
0.219 (off season) 4.6 (off season)
Duck* 300 ft buffer around main streams
0.328 (peak season) 3.0 (peak season)
Forest; based on kill rate and population model per
Wild square mile of forest for Caroline, Essex, King George,
0.018 55.7
Turkey Richmond, and Westmoreland Counties, assuming the
killed birds are 10% of the total population
*Off season includes resident waterfowl (March - September) and peak season includes resident and migratory
waterfowl (October February).

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Table 5. Wildlife Estimates for the Rappahannock River Study Area.
Geese Geese Ducks Ducks
Watershed Deer Raccoons Muskrats Beaver (off (peak (off (peak
season) season) season) season)
Mill Creek 802 761 1,076 167 261 364 441 662 329

Jetts Creek 204 200 165 42 68 95 115 173 72

320 331 544 67 112 158 190 286 128
122 73 164 24 36 51 62 92 26
Baylors Creek 144 135 160 39 64 90 109 161 49
194 186 266 41 66 93 113 169 67
Peedee Creek 302 209 881 54 88 121 147 222 77
780 412 7,291 216 377 527 640 958 149
TOTAL 2,868 2,307 10,547 650 1,072 1,499 1,817 2,723 897

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